Threads Of Life



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A young batik artist learns the craft, Tuban, Java.

For thousands of years, traders and immigrants have fostered strong cultural ties between the island of Java and the great civilizations of east and west Asia. Large Chinese communities have existed on Java’s northern coast for centuries, and have given a strong Chinese flavor to the Javanese arts in those cities. In Pekalongan, for example, the large colorful designs on local batik reveal a powerful leaning towards Chinese tastes. In other areas, the influence is more subtle.
This sayut – so called for the long twined fringes at either end – was made in eastern Java, some distance inland from the northern coast, in an area not notable for its Chinese community. The motif, called Lok Chan, drawn directly from Ming-period Chinese models, has been adapted in design and color to the artistic preferences of the Javanese.

  • Multi-Purpose Scarf (2005)
  • Woven by Kasti
  • Batik by Jawok
  • Dyed by Sarni
  • Kerek village, Java
  • Warp-faced plain weave, batik
  • Handspun cotton, natural dyes
  • 56 cm x 331 cm (22 in x 130 in)
  • Code # T.JA.TB.027

Jarik Batik

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Ibu Kartini heads home from the garden, Tuban, Java.

In the 1980s, Uswatun Hasanah saw Java’s proud batik tradition vanishing around her. Young women had stopped wearing the hand-drawn batik cloth that once made the Tuban area famous, and were losing the ability to spin, to weave, and to make natural dyes. Uswatun founded the Sanggar Sekar Ayu weavers’ cooperative in 1993 to help her local textile traditions to survive. The group, whose name means ’’beautiful flower,’’ produces some of the most truly handmade textiles in Java today. Members hand-spin all of their thread from homegrown cotton, and dye their cloth with homegrown indigo.
This piece, with its flat-cut ends, is called jarik batik. Sekar Ayu member Tarmini drew these traditional designs onto the finished cloth with molten wax. When the cloth was dyed, the threads sealed under the wax stayed white, and the pattern emerged..

  • Multi-Purpose Scarf
  • 2007
  • Woven by Rusiyah
  • Batik by Tarmini
  • Dyed by Sanggar Sekar Ayu
  • Kerek village, Java
  • Warp-faced plain weave, batik
  • Handspun cotton, natural dyes
  • 56 x 315 cm. (22 x 124 in)
  • Code # T.JA.TB.160

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