Exhibitions

Fowler in Focus: Courtly and Urban Batik from Java

May 23, 2010 to September 5, 2010

Drawn from the Fowler Museum’s extensive holdings of Indonesian textiles, the refined batiks made in Java’s royal courts or urban workshops stand in contrast to the rustic rural batiks of Kerek. The pieces range from an impressively large skirt cloth for a Javanese sultan to a slim and elegant silk scarf regarded as suitable for an itinerant entertainer or other women of questionable repute. The cosmopolitan nature of Java’s north coast trading ports is evidenced by cloths intended for such diverse purposes as Islamic banners for the Sumatran market or alter cloths for the Chinese community residing in Java. All testify to the remarkable free-form artistry that is the halmark of fine hand-waxed batik.
This exhibition has been developed as a companion to Nini Towok’s Spinning Wheel, a major exhibition about cloth and the cycle of life in Kerek, Java (on view August 1–November 30, 2010).

Exhibition In Depth

Drawn from the Fowler Museum’s extensive holdings of Indonesian textiles, these eleven beautiful textiles offer fine examples of both courtly and urban batik from Java. The two contrasting styles—on view in Fowler in Focus: Courtly and Urban Batik from Java from May 23–Sept 5, 2010—equally testify to the remarkable free-form artistry that is the hallmark of fine hand-waxed batik.

Refined batiks from Java’s royal courts were highly localized cultural expressions made and used within the immediate neighborhood of the palace. In contrast, more brightly colored batiks made in urban workshops in the island’s North Coast trading ports demonstrate the highly cosmopolitan nature of those communities, serving such diverse purposes as Islamic banners for the Sumatran market (left) or altar cloths for Java’s Chinese residents.

The pieces on display range from an impressively large skirt cloth for a Javanese sultan to a slim and elegant silk scarf suitable for an itinerant entertainer or women of questionable repute. These works all date from the mid-19thto mid-20th centuries.

Press Release

Courtly and Urban