20 April 2021 – Lunch talk RCMC

Mini ‘Brown Bag’ Research Session from 13h – 16h

In an effort to nurture research on the collection of the Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen (NMVW), which consists of nearly 450,000 objects and 750,000 photographic images, the Research Center for Material Culture (RCMC), the research institute of the Tropenmuseum, the Museum Volkenkunde, the Afrika Museum, and the Wereldmuseum in Rotterdam, welcomes fellows, junior fellows, research associates and university student interns. To learn more about each other’s inquiries and offer a means of doing research in a time in which social distancing and travel restrictions ask that we think our work differently, this mini-conference offers just one way for us to connect across spaces. 

15:20 – 15:50:

Panel IV: Fashioning the stories we tell

Moderator: Daan van Dartel

  • Ella Broek, Jane Stjeward-Schubert & Michelle Piergoelam, ‘The technique and the experience of Afro-Surinamese costume’
  • Sabine Bolk, ‘Project Re-telling the History of the (Indo-)European Influence on Batik’

Sabine Bolk | Project Re-telling the History of the (Indo-)European Influence on Batik

Batik WM-27272

My researchproject is focused on batiks made between 1840-1890 that are either attributed to an Indo-European Batikentrepreneur or are seen as having an Indo-European style or influence. I am trying to re-tell this history by determine what we can actually view as ‘European’ or ‘Indo-European’ influence.  To re-tell the history of the (Indo-)European influence on Batik, I use as a starting point the story and batiks attributed to Carolina Josephina von Franquemont (1815-1867). 

She is seen as the first entrepreneur that introduced a European style into Javanese batiks. Over the years many batiks got attributed to her with little or unclear provenance, mentioning the Batiks are made ‘in the style of Von Franquemont’ or using the term ‘Prankemon’. They were used in books which even resulted in new attributions from the 1990’s onwards. On the other hand I found donated pieces of which the owners claim it was made her, but some of these pieces have never been displayed or weren’t photographed yet.

At the moment I am mapping out what is actually the Dutch, European and Indo-European influence on Javanese batik. I am working out the provenance of all batiks attributed {at one point in time}  to Von Franquemont in the NMvW and Wereldmuseum collection. And hopefully I can share a little on the laboratoriumresearch we are hoping to do on the colours used in these Batiks.



Sabine Bolk (1984) is a Dutch artist who has been exploring Batik, the Indonesian resist-dye technique for textile, for the last 12 years. The inspiration doesn’t only come from the technique, but also from the language of the patterns and the philosophy of Batik. On her blog ’The journey to Batik’ she writes about her discoveries, journeys and research. In 2009 and 2016 Sabine went to Java, Indonesia, to document to process of Batik making. In October 2019 she went to Indonesia to launch her current researchproject. In her researchproject she works on Retelling the History of the (Indo-)European Influence on Batik. Sabine is currently a Research Associate at the Research Center for Material Culture in Leiden (NL) to research the batik collections in Dutch museums & archives. She writes for different platforms, organises events, gives talks, presentations and workshops. She not only gets inspiration from Batik, she also works on promoting, preserving and protecting Batik.