boerenzakdoek Argentinie,
blue . white . yellow sun
60 x 60 cm
oil on canvas
©arttrust 2009

Kanga en Kitenge

East Africa

The techniques, symbolism and culture surrounding hand-dyed cotton and silk garments known as Indonesian Batik permeate the lives of Indonesians from beginning to end: infants are carried in batik slings decorated with symbols designed to bring the child luck, and the dead are shrouded in funerary batik. The wide diversity of patterns reflects a variety of influences, ranging from Arabic calligraphy, European bouquets and Chinese phoenixes to Japanese cherry blossoms and Indian or Persian peacocks. Often handed down within families for generations, the craft of batik is intertwined with the cultural identity of the Indonesian people and, through the symbolic meanings of its colours and designs, expresses their creativity and spirituality.
Batik Kraton, the original form of Javanese batik is most influenced by Hinduism. Recognizable symbols from Hinduism, as the sacred bird Garuda, the lotus flower and the tree of life are recurring elements in the batik style. Islamic influences are reflected in the more botanical and geometric figures that were included in the batik. Also external influences have helped.

When the Dutch reached the island of Java, they came in contact with batik. They took samples of the art home and thus caused the spread of the process in Europe. Conversely, they brought new colors to Indonesia and introduced motifs that were included in the traditional batik patterns. Pastels and characteristic figures such as dragons, phoenix and flowers were brought by the Chinese, the batik technique also at home also developed and applied.
In 2009 Batic paterns became part of by Unesco recognized Cultural World Heritage.
The word "Batik" literally means drawing with wax..



Already in the early Middle Ages rich African rulers were interested in luxury goods from Europe. Especially textiles were very popular. From the 17th century the Dutch played a major role in fulfilling that desire. They traded Indian fabriks to the West African coast. It is therefore not surprising that the imitation batik fabrics found their way to Africa. They became popular when indigenous soldiers who returned after serving in the Netherlands Indian army between 1837 and 1872 to their homes around Fort Elmina on the Gold Coast (the coastal area of present-day Ghana). Especially fabrics with the coarser material fraction effects fall into taste. What the Dutch Indies found ugly, the African liked the most. Around the 18th century the first Vlisco khanga's wee sold to Kenya, Tanganyika and Zanzibar. A khanga exists of two: one for around the lap and one to wear as a headscarf. It was primarily driven by Muslim women. From 1946 Vlisco textiles became part of African culture.

more about Batik