Weaving Patterns of Life

Weaving Patterns of Life

Indonesian Textile Symposium 1991 (Basel, Switzerland)
Weaving Patterns of Life
Nabholz-Kartaschoff, Marie-Louise; Barnes, Ruth; and Stuart-Fox, David J., Eds
Basel, Switzerland: Museum of Ethnography Basel, 1993

These international symposia, apparently convened every 6 or more years, are interesting to study for the range of topics being researched (symposia were convened in 1979, 1985, 1991 and 1999). Four topics were covered in the 1991 symposium, attended by specialists and students of Indonesian textiles: (1) Textiles in Archaeology and History; (2) Iconography; (3) Function and Meaning; and (4) Techniques and Their Interpretation. Several articles, noted below, were of interest to me. I had not encountered much information on these topics in other literature: an inquiry into the hand-drawn batiks worn by villagers today, research on the “smell” of ikat textiles and its significance, and some practical techniques to discern different types of batik. 12

Nian S. Djoemena, in “Batik Treasures of the Special Region of Yogyakarta,” 433-448, categorizes batik produced today into three types: (1) fine, hand-drawn batik taking 9 months to 1 year to make; (2) medium or “dagel” (or “rini”) which is a combination of cap and hand-drawn batik; and (3) coarse quality or “kasar” which includes hand-drawn batik done by village people. She noted this last type of batik as hard to find, since it has been outmoded by mechanically printed batik that is more costefficient for villagers to buy rather than produce for their own use. “Since there is a possibility that village people’s batik or batik kasar might become extinct, it is worthwhile to look into and take note of its presence.”

A second article, “Batik Plagiate? How to Distinguish between Batik Tuliks, Batik Cap and Direct Prints,” by Annegret Haake and Hani Winotosastro, 449-455, gives some hints on how to tell if a batik is wax resist; the reverse side will never be lighter than the facial side and single uncolored threads on the reverse side in a colored area are proof of direct prints or drawings. Illustrations are given to distinguish between batik tulis and cap, while noting that definitive decisions on natural vs. synthetic dyes can only be done in a laboratory.

Janet Hoskins, in “Snakes, Smells and Dismembered Brides: Men’s and Women’s Textiles in Kodi, West Sumba,” 229-246, discusses the pungent smell of indigo cloths produced by the Kodi people on the western tip of Sumba. “The ‘sniff test’ determines the appropriateness of the cloth to be used in certain ritual contexts, especially funerals and marriages, and its place in the hierarchy of local textiles.”

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