The historical connection between India and Indonesia is well documented. We have the legend Boeeta Bandaan from Odisha, India, that describes voyages between the two regions. Then there are massive temples in Prambanan, Indonesia, that are devoted to the Hindu trilogy Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma. The Hindu culture of Bali is also well-known. Finally, in the field of textiles we see connections through Toraja ceremonial cloths and Patola ikats.
However I was ignorant about the Hindu influence on Cirebonese culture. It was only recently that I stumbled upon a Batik artwork in which I recognised a figure from the Hindu epic — the Ramayan. That began my journey into the exploration of this confluence. Over the next few months I acquired several more masterpieces, all finely done with great detail.
At this online exhibition, 16 Hindu-influenced Cirebonese batik textiles by artist Late Pak Tomik, have been showcased and all are available for acquisition.
In the exhibited artworks from Cirebon, we see stories from the Hindu epics, the Mahabharat and Ramayan depicted in large scale Batiks. It is said that such artworks — known as Wayang Batik — were originally used as props for folk theatre performances.
In some of these artworks we see as many as fifty figures playing out various legendary scenes, each drawn with a superfine batik canting pen.
These narrative Batiks mesmerise us not only with the detailed fine figurative art, but also with the confluence of cultures embedded within.
These artworks will be of great interest to art collectors, museums and interior decor specialists.