Batik: Its Mystery and Meaning
Indonesia: Penerbit Djambatan, 1986
Nian, of West Sumatran origin, was born into a textile family. Her father, Rahman
Tamin, was the first businessman in Indonesia to establish a factory for the finishing and printing of textiles in Surabaya. After completing secondary education, Nian continued her education at the Hogere Textiel School in the Netherlands. After 1960 Nian began to seriously collect batiks from a number of different regions. This book is the result of her studies and travels, including interviews with batik-makers, and includes photographs from her private collection.
In general, Nian classifies the batiks (kain batik) into two broad categories: (i) the batik of Solo (batik solo) and Yogya where the symbolic motifs reflect a Hindu-Javanese cultural background and the colors emphasize sogan (rich brown color), indigo (blue), black, white and cream; and (ii) the batik of the coastal areas where motifs are naturalistic, reflecting foreign influences, and a variety of colors. She goes on to discuss the motifs and color combinations of the batiks in nine regions, which she considers the most important: Solo, Yogya, Cirebon, Indramayu, Garut, Pekalongan, Lasem, Madura, and Jambi. A brief description is presented for 273 different designs and color combinations, discussing them in relation to the geographical situation where the batik is made, the social order and customs of that particular region, the natural environment, and contact with other batik-making areas. It concludes with short descriptions of well-known batik artists working at the time of publication, linking them to the particular designs for which they are noted (particularly helpful to anyone considering starting up an Indonesian batik business). A glossary of Indonesian terms is included.