Polynesian objects from early European exploration, £19.99
Length: 264.000 cm
Width: 105.000 cm
Gift of C.H. Beving
Africa, Oceania, Americas
From Java, Indonesia, early 20th century AD
Mutual influences between Indonesia and Europe
Although decorating textiles with a batik technique is well-known in Africa and many parts of Asia, the tradition that has developed in Java is the most well known.
This example was given to The British Museum by C.H. Beving, a textile industrialist who took a particular interest in the techniques and styles of cloth production developed around the world. He bought this cloth in 1911, at the height of batik production both in Indonesia and in Europe. The popularity of batik at the end of the nineteenth century and through to the 1920s led the Dutch in particular to invite Indonesian artisans to Holland to teach their own workers and to set up manufactures based in Europe.
This example is traditional in its distribution of animal and floral motifs in a geometric design. The large wings of Garuda, an important mythical bird in Indonesian beliefs, are commonly represented in batik art. Other influences are also visible: the peacock is a motif originally from India and China, and the edges are decorated with a pattern imitating lace, indicating a European influence.
M. Hitchcock, Indonesian textiles (London, The British Museum Press, 1991)