Sunday, August 1, 2010


courtesy of kabarinews

Batik pattern for Ronald Reagan courtesy of alexabimanyu

Bill Gates wearing batik courtesy of detiknews

First Lady of Indonesia doing batik with Iwan Tirta courtesy of PresidenRI

I don’t know why last July I had several revelations about batik since I read Stylebeat and Joe Ruggiero articles of batik for interior. I was ashamed considering that I am Indonesian but I had lack stories about batik. Reading their articles, I was inspired to write about batik for interior too. And last July was closed by the fact that Indonesia’s batik maestro, Iwan Tirta, had passed way on July 31. This is really a loss for Indonesia and batik.
Honoring Iwan Tirta’s dedication for batik, I would like to re-post his biography, with some new additions of his works by me.

Nursjirwan Tirtaamidjaja, also known as Iwan Tirta, is one of the Indonesia's most celebrated batik artists and designers. His collections are well-known and so are his boutiques, extravagant fashion shows, and fabric designs. Iwan Tirta is often credited with introducing Indonesia batik to the rest of the world.

Iwan Tirta studied at the London School of Economics and Yale Law School. His love for batik blossomed when he won a research grant from The John D. Rockerfeller III Fund. Iwan Tirta embarked on a research project into the sacred dances of the Susuhunan of Surakarta Royal Court. There, surrounded by the life of Central Java Courts, he nurtured his newfound interest in Javanese fabric. His interest was stimulated by his mother's batik collection, which included some of Indonesia's best batiks.

He soon recognized the importance to document and preserve the arts and crafts of batik. He undertook the responsibility to record the evolution of batik and spent weeks in the museums, towns and villages collecting samples and tracing the art's origin and development.

The second stage of his "batik consciousness" culminated in 1966 when he completed a book called ‘Batik Pattern and Motifs’, detailing the historical and sociological aspects of batik.

Iwan Tirta has successfully taken Batik to a new level. Elements of design were reconstructed, revived, and brought up-to-date, thus keeping batik's existence in Indonesia as well as in the world. Together with Chossy Latu, he changed batik from a long piece of fabric into a beautiful gown. He and Chossy Latu successfully combined the traditional element of batik and the practical and modern value of western ready to wear.

His sumptuous and contemporized yet traditional design have appeared in the pages of international magazine such as Voque, Harper's Bazaar, Architecture's Digest, New York Times, Asia Weeks, National Geographic and others.

In the 70s, he preceded the applied of batik for interior when he succeeded to convince numerous five stars hotel in Jakarta and Bali to use batik when PATA conference held.

His loyal admirers are ranging from every level of the society, including the aristocracy and royalty. He has staged exhibitions and fashion shows for Indonesia's first ladies and for the Indonesian government, showcasing his collections for visiting heads of state and royal members such as Queen Elizabeth II, Queen Sophie of Spain, Queen Juliana of Netherland and Bill Clinton.

He has also presented special and custom-designed Iwan Tirta batik for each heads of state that came for the Asia Pacific Economic Conference held in Jakarta in 1994.

courtesy of tutinonka

Batik is one of several "court arts", along with shadow play of wayang purwa, court dances, gamelan or authentic Javanese percussion orchestra, and poetry. The art is an extension of the philosophy based on the spiritual discipline. Control, etiquette, and harmony are of central importance to the Javanese. Any conflicts in design or style are to be avoided.

Batik incorporates a few elements of meditation. Breathing and total concentration are of necessity to draw fine, even lines with canting. Batik drawing requires calm and peaceful psychological state; observing it also induces a meditative state of mind. Controlled breathing is essential in painting batik. Like court dancers and gamelan perfomers, batik painter must clear one's mind through fasting or abstinence.

The ego must be contained to achieve a perfect harmony between the mind and the batik technique or design. A superior batik is synonymous with harmony.

The design vocabulary for batik is derived from various aesthetic orientations and often inspired by rituals. The upper-classes participated in the rituals and undoubtedly contributed in defining the batik designs. Geometric patterns prevalent at the court were motifs like the ceplok, the kawung, the nitik and the lereng or garis miring.

Thirty years since his first book, Iwan Tirta, released his second book, ‘Batik A Play of Light and Shade’ on 1996. This book tells the history of Indonesia’s batik in social and cultural relation in an stageact alike in wayang performance. Last year he launched his third book, ‘Batik, Sebuah Lakon’. It’s an Indonesian version of ‘Batik A Play of Light and Shade’ with more personal informations of batik added.

Fabric is not the only media that Iwan Tirta creativity had been applied. His depth sense of batik made him found no difficulties in translation batik patterns and motifs into fine pieces dining set and silver-made jewelry and handycraft.

courtesy of Vibizlife
article courtesy of IwanTirtaBatik

Selamat jalan Pak Iwan, karya-karyamu akan tetap abadi.

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