Indonesian Batik : Processes, Patterns and Places
Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1986
Fraser-Lu presents a useful classification of batik design into (i) isen or
background designs (some 15 different motifs); (ii) geometric designs (Ceplokan or
repetitive designs and Kawung or circular designs, Nitik or weaving designs, Garis
Miring or parallel diagonal designs, Tambal Miring or patchwork design, and Tumpal or
triangular design); and (iii) Semen or Non-geometric Designs (flower, fruit, and leaf
motifs, bird motifs, animal motifs, rock and cloud designs, mountain and landscape
designs, ship motifs, and human figures). The explanations include both description and
symbolism with small pictures of each type. Her typology of batik industries is also
interesting, as she describes specific batik companies and their organizational structure in the towns that she visited.
This book is a well-written straightforward text with a brief historical account of
the origins of batik and the batik process. Of particular interest is her notation of the
integration of batik with the wayang kulit shadow plays and the gamelan orchestras.
According to Fraser-Lu, the Javanese dalang (puppeteer) not only presides over the most important of the performing arts, but he also is an important source of batik patterns. The names of well-known gamelan melodies have their counterpart in batik (for example, Pisang Bali, Kawung, Limar and Srikaton). In the conclusions, the author notes the existence of the Wastraprema Society, an organization dedicated to maintaining the purity of Indonesian batik and weaving and the Batik Research Center (Balai Penelitian Batik Kerajinan) in Jogjakarta, as well as the role of Iwan Tirta in preserving the art of batik while innovating in ways to use it more effectively. The author meant this book to be a brief guide or “apertif” for the general reader or traveler, and the small book is indeed something one could take along when studying or purchasing batik.