Danar Hadi Batik factory, Solo, Indonesia
Batik is patterned cloth produced by applying a number of dyes to a wax stencil . The patterns are very intricate and are drafted by hand. Modern manufacturing processes have introduced chemical dyes but top quality Batik dyes are natural. One way to spot whether natural dyes have been used is to check for an irregularity and leeching of the dye at the edges of the cloth.
The process is labour intensive and time-consuming. Batik began in Solo, Central Java, and the Danar Hadi factory was established by Mr H. Santosa Doellah’s family in the 19th Century – his grandfather being an immigrant from India. Mr Doella has amassed an enormous Batik collection over the years and the museum houses this collection with Batik fabrics drawn from throughout Indonesia. Like Tartan, Batik is a clan indicator but also a signal of status. The collection includes Royal Batik as well as patterns influenced by Chinese and Japanese migrants and by the wives of Dutch settlers in the 19th Century. According to our tour guide the Dutch influence is more pervasive than is recognised by modern Indonesians.
Batik acts as a common unifier in an archipelago of extreme diversity. Soeharto encouraged the practice of Batik production and used it as a symbol of Indonesian unity – a flag for the people. Those who have travelled by Singapore Air may recognise Batik from the flight attendant uniforms. As with a lot of culture and food in South East Asia it began in Indonesia and made it’s way to the fringes. Batik is an example of how Indonesian’s can synthesise elements from India, China and the West and make a truly local product – which is then successfully commercialised by the Singaporean and Malaysians.
The pictures below show the museum, factory and a signature meal from the restaurant. It’s instructive to contrast the factory with the museum / showroom. It’s important, however, to emphasise that this is no sweatshop and the conditions are “relatively” good.
The restaurant is well worth a visit and does an excellent local fruit juice.
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