The beauty of batik
KING CHULALONGKORN’S PRECIOUS COLLECTION OF BATIKS FROM JAVA GOES ON DISPLAY FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME
AS A SIDELINE to its current exhibition “A Royal Treasure: The Javanese Batik Collection of King Chulalongkorn of Siam”, the Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles is offering a range of merchandise with the patterns and motifs found in the Javanese batiks on display.
King Chulalongkorn’s private collection features 307 samples of Javanese batik acquired during his visits to Java in 1871, 1896 and 1901. They have been stored in the Treasury of the Inner Court of the Grand Palace since his death in 1910 and are being publicly displayed for the first time.
Continuing until May 2021, the exhibits will be shown on a rotating basis and 37 pieces are currently on view.
In 1871, at the age of 18, King Chulalongkorn officially visited Singapore and Java to observe modern technology and Western-style governance. This was in keeping with His Majesty’s goal to modernise Siam as well as to establish friendships with England and the Netherlands. His first 15-day trip to Java was to observe Western innovations, such as the railway connecting Batavia (present-day Jakarta) with Semarang in Java.
His Majesty returned to Java in 1896 and 1901 on unofficial visits and he toured Yogyakarta, Surakarta, Cirebon, Indramayu and Garut among other cities. Batiks from Surakarta were typically yellow-brown or dark blue with tiny motifs, while those from Yogyakarta were predominantly chocolate brown or a lighter blue. The royal collection has 43 pieces from Yogyakarta produced by the Lawick van Pabst studio, which the King visited twice.
After touring the exhibition, visitors can head to the museum shop to snap up photo frames bearing patterns popular in the Surakarta court such as a sword-like motif and a floral pattern called “Sirikit” – named to honour Her Majesty Queen Sirikit during her state visit with His Majesty the late King Bhumibol in 1960. There are also lens cleaning cloths featuring the signature pattern of Semarang with geometric shapes in vertical panels and pictorial subjects as well as caps, umbrellas, cushions, purses, pens, earrings and chokers in distinctive motifs.
The museum is within the Grand Palace compound in Bangkok and open daily from 9am to 4.30pm.
For details, call (02) 225 9420 or visit www.QSMTThailand.org.
Photo frames, Bt450-Bt650
Lens cleaning cloth, Bt60