Peruvian Connection - Celebrating 30 Years
Indonesian Design & Inspiration
An Indonesian kepala can be a man's ceremonial headcovering
or a specific design panel in cloth
Batik blossoms from a turn-of-the-century Indonesia sarong on our Kepala Blossom Top
Batik blossoms from a turn-of-the-century Indonesian sarong on our Kepala Blossom Top.

Photo at top courtesy N. Illinois University

At Peruvian Connection we remain true to our roots by celebrating the extraordinary beauty of ethnographic textiles from around the world.

You can see this take shape in many of the patterns and prints we use for our clothes, especially our artisan knits. For Spring 2007, one of our favorite motifs takes its inspiration from a mid-19th century Indonesian batik sarong.

Indonesia's island of Java creates some of the world's highest quality batik-work. In Indonesia, sarongs are still considered important articles of clothing, being the most comfortable garments to wear during the hot, humid weather. It is also one of the world's most versatile garments, easily transformed from an article of clothing into a carrying sack or cradle-like sling for a baby. Wrapped around the neck it becomes a scarf; around the head it's a turban; draped over the shoulders it's a shawl.

Although no one is certain when sarongs were first worn in Indonesia, one of the earliest records is found on bas relief stone figures of the temple at Borobudur, built in the 8th and 9th centuries in central Java. Today, Indonesian men generally wear woven plaid sarongs, while women wear sarongs dyed in the traditional batik method, often in bright floral patterns. Batik, a fabric-dyeing process that dates back over 1,500 years, uses hot wax as a resistance barrier to color dyes while allowing non-waxed areas of the fabric to absorb color. Wax can be removed and re-applied over and over to create beautiful, intricate designs. Producing batik fabrics is complicated and labor-intensive; the finest sarongs can take over nine months to complete.

By the early 16th century, the spice trade brought European, Middle Eastern and Chinese influences to Indonesia. In the port markets along Indonesia's northern coast (known as the pasisir), fine batik sarongs from central Java were exchanged for nutmeg, cloves and other spices. This intermingling of cultures led to distinct, regional styles of Indonesian batiks which flourished from the 19th through the 20th centuries. Fusing Javanese, Chinese, Islamic, Dutch and Indo-European designs, pasisir sarongs used color more freely and introduced motifs, including European wallpaper designs.

View more Indonesian and batik-inspired items
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