With beautiful full-color Batik cloths and extensive historical and cultural commentary, Batik: From the Courts of Java and Sumatra is a fundamental work in the field of Indonesian art and culture.
Batik occupies a special position in Indonesia. The extraordinary photographs of cloths and prints in this book demonstrate why batik is the stuff of textile legend. These 71 batik designs, taken from the collection of famed dealer Rudolf G. Smend, date from 1880-1930, a time still considered batik's golden age.
Emanating from the provicial and stately courts of Yogyakarta and Surakarta in Central Java are hip, chest, shoulder, and head cloths in controlled, orderly, geometric patterns in natural soga brown, indigo blue, black, and cream. Brighter colors and freer designs on the sarongs made in Cirebon, Pekalongan, Lasem, and other towns along Java's commercial north coast eloquently attest to the blending of indigenous forms, motifs, and colors with outside influences. Southern Sumatra, with its Muslim heritage, contributed large shoulder cloths and headscarves often bearing Koranic invocations.
Complementing these extraordinary cloths are 16 vintage photo prints from the Leo Haks collection, which demonstrate how batik was worn at court and in other settings.