Journey to Batik News

Masa depan Batik | Future of Batik 

Exhibition by Sabine Bolk

at Erasmus Huis in Jakarta, Indonesia from 21 October 2023 until 20 January 2024

Masa depan Batik is the latest exhibition by Dutch artist and batik researcher Sabine Bolk. Bolk’s Batik journey started in 2009 at the same moment that Batik became the official UNESCO intangible heritage of Indonesia. Now after 14 years Bolk reflects on her journey to Batik and the journey of Batik. The work of different batik makers and their perseverance to keep this craft alive and future proof is showcased in this exhibition next to Bolk’s own work in the field of art, research and in close collaborations with researchers, batikmakers and artists.

Grand opening 21 October at 19.30h

Come meet the pembatiks that made the batiks featured in the exhibition;

Mbak Nurul Maslahah (Batang)
Ibu Ramini of KUB Srikandi (desa Jeruk)
Ibu Umriyah (Batang)
Mbak Eka of Lumintu Batik (Lasem)
Ibu Siti (Batang)
Ibu Widianti Widjaja of Oey Soe Tjoen (Pekalongan)

Pasar Batik on 22 October from 10 am – 14pm with Batik Fashionshow

Talk & workshop research in Dutch databases by Sabine Bolk on 23 October at the Erasmus Huis library

Batikworkshop in collaboration with Museum Tekstil & Pembatik from the exhibition on 4 & 25 November

‘Paper sarong’ workshop for children by Sabine Bolk on 18 November

Artist Nidi Kusmaya will update the colours in our Natural Dye Lab in the exhibition – first blue on 21 October, other dates will be annouched soon

Journey to Batik News Projects


Hoeveel kebaya’s/kebaja’s had jouw (voor)moeder? En waren die allemaal wit? Misschien heb je er nog eentje of meer liggen, in de kamferkist of linnenkast. En wie weet wil je die door ons, Sabine Bolk en Dido Michielsen, laten bekijken en het bijbehorende verhaal aan ons vertellen. En misschien heb je er zelfs foto’s bij waarop diezelfde kebaya wordt gedragen!

Wij, Sabine Bolk, kunstenaar en batik onderzoeker, en Dido Michielsen, schrijfster, vinden
dat van het duo sarong&kebaya, de laatste nogal een ondergeschoven kindje is. Er is weinig tot geen onderzoek naar gedaan, terwijl het kledingstuk notabene genomineerd is als UNESCO immaterieel erfgoed. Bovendien lijkt het alsof de witte kebaya in het voormalige Nederlands- Indië voornamelijk werd gedragen door (Indo-)Europeanen en vrouwen die zich in hun kringen begaven. Daarom vroegen we ons af: heeft de kleur wit in dit geval een extra, wellicht koloniale, betekenis? En dat leidde weer tot andere vragen, zoals:

  • Was het dragen van de witte kebaya strikt verbonden met de bovenlaag van de samenleving?
  • Werd de witte kebaya ook op de Molukken en op Papoea Nieuw-Guinea gedragen?
  • Speelde religie een rol bij de keuze voor de witte kebaya?
  • Hoe is de ‘traditie’ van de witte kebaya dragen ontstaan? Kan er ook een praktische reden zijn voor het dragen van wit, omdat het verkoelend zou zijn en zweetplekken minder toont?
  • Zat er verschil in materiaalgebruik en wat kunnen we daar nog meer over te weten komen?
  • Wanneer verdween de witte kebaya uit het straatbeeld en wat betekende dit?
  • Heeft de witte kebaya nog altijd een koloniale connotatie of kan ze gewoon worden gedragen?

Kortom: vertellen de witte kebaya’s een eigen verhaal dat kan worden doorgegeven?

De basis voor ons onderzoek is een tiental witte exemplaren uit Dido’s collectie. Maar we zijn ook enorm benieuwd naar wat jullie kebaya’s ons kunnen vertellen. Daarom nodigen we je uit om contact met ons op te nemen als je denkt te kunnen helpen het raadsel van de witte kebaya te ontrafelen.

Het resultaat van ons onderzoek presenteren we op de Tong Tong Fair 2024.

Wil je meedoen aan ‘De betekenis van de witte kebaya’ met jouw kebaya? Mail dan naar:

Salam hangat,
Sabine Bolk en Dido Michielsen |

Dit project is mede mogelijk gemaakt door een subsidie van het Vfonds

Journey to Batik Projects Work on paper

Design for Javanese women event

Legien Warsosemito-Schenk & Stijn Schenk reached out to me asking if I wanted to design, or create, a batik inspired motif for their event. The event held on 17 June 2023 is part of a series organized by them, Jessica Warsosemito & Monique Koosman ~ in which Javanese(-Surinamese) women from different generations come together and reflect on the impact of colonial history.
For 17 June the focus was on sexuality and the view on sexuality and I was asked to translate this theme ~ which consist of many different elements ~ into a pattern.

Through talking with Legien, about symbols, colours & what it means for her and the room she wants to create for Javanese women, I soon got an idea on how the repeating of the pattern had to look like.
It had to be a circle, a close space, to represent a safe space, but at the same time it had to move outward, in a ritme that goes with the flow, to grow & learn in your own pace.
In the center ~ on request ~ the Mamuli. The Mamuli originates from the Indonesian island Sumba, it has a shape which represents the female genitalia, symbolizing the woman as the giver of life.
Around it I placed different animals who have a symbolic connection with sexuality, but also with movement & growth. In a short talk during the event I explained a little more on this.
It was really nice to get this invite, feel honoured. I had to make in a bit of a rush, but I am very happy with the result & all the nice responses I got on it during the event.

On 18 november 2023 there will be another event at Bibliotheek Zuidplein in Rotterdam~ open to everyone ~ reflecting on the gatherings and presenting the (art)works that were made to complement the events.

Journey to Batik Projects

Research report on Prankemon Green

So excited to finally share this. In the making since I started my position as a Research Associate at Research Center for Material Culture (RCE) in 2019. To research and re-tell the story on batik entrepreneur Carolina Josephina von Franquemont, it was important to use all tools available to look into the myth & the legend, especially that of ‘Prankemon green’.

With the help and expertise of Art Proaño Gaibor of Rijksdienst voor Cultureel Erfgoed the green (and other dye colours) found in batiks attributed to Von Franquemont could be put under a microscope. Pretty much exactly that we did. With just 2 mm of a thread many different things can be research; what dyes were used, synthetic or natural ingredients, what natural ingredients aka plants were used, traces of wax or oils can be found, metals & carbon traces.Which was also done by photographing the batiks in different light filters. 

The process was long. It took me about 6 months to get approval to actually do the research, then more months passed before the actually samples were taken and then more months of processing the data before the report was done. But now it is officially here: Carolina Josephina von Franquemont (1817-1867) Prankemon green : research into the chemical composition of organic dyes in 19th century sarongs.

Via the link in bio; you can read a summery of the report & results.

“The recipe for this green color was allegedly a secret that was lost after Von Franquemont’s death. The conducted research is to determine what Prankemon green is made of and to attribute the colour to the workshop or debunk dyestuff myths surrounding its creation. 
Studies of five cotton batik sarongs (collection: NMvW Leiden and World Museum Rotterdam) show that all the colors were made from natural dyes, most likely locally sourced {…} On the basis of the results there are strong indications that the investigated batiks were all made in different dyeing workshops.”

Via you can request the report D2021-082 digitally. It is not yet accessible online, but hopefully it will be soon. The report is in English.

Journey to Batik News Projects

World Stories on Batik

My two world stories for the National Museum of World Cultures on Batik got published. One focusses on the making: Worldwide loved and worn but how is Batik made with many photos by me on the making process, next to great images & batiks from the National Museum of World Cultures collection. And the other part is on the wearer of Batik; Wearing Batik is showing who you are. Both are in Dutch, but I included many wonderful images, so go check it out!

Journey to Batik Projects

24 June – Online talk ‘Developments in Batik history in the 19th century’

The speaker who will be participating in the webinar called “Developments in Batik history in the 19th century, imitations and other influences from abroad” is Sabine Bolk (1984).

Sabine Bolk is a Dutch artist and Batik researcher. She keeps a blog, ‘Journey to Batik’, since 2009 on which she writes about her travels to Java, her research on Batik and much more. She is currently researching the development of Javanese Batik in the 19th century with a focus on the makers and the wearers.  

Watch back my talk now. My talk is in English and gets translated in Burmese during the talk

Journey to Batik Projects

Webinar Indonesia and the Amsterdam School: Batik in Motion

Webinar | Indonesia and the Amsterdam School #4: batik

In this Webinar series, Museum het Schip joins forces with Heritage hands-on, Pusat Dokumentasi Arsitektur, and Yayasan Museum Arsitektur Indonesia to explore these relations by inviting heritage experts, historians, architects, curators, and artists.

This Webinar is about the application of batik in Indonesia as a heritage practice and its application in the late-colonial period by Dutch artists, including those of the Amsterdam School movement. How do the Dutch and Indonesians nowadays look upon the debate on artistic freedom versus the appropriation of a visual language and techniques from another culture?

Took place online on 3 May 2023

Journey to Batik News

14 May 2022 – Unraveling Dutch Batik: Batik workshop with Sabine Bolk

This workshop is a collaborative project of PPI Rotterdam and INYS, to promote intercultural heritage between Indonesia and the Netherlands. Batik is valued as a great medium and an introduction for those who are still curious about this particular textile tradition. Join us in learning and creating batik during the sunny day of May!

Event Timing: Saturday, 14th May 2022. 10.00 – 16.30 CEST
Spoke person: Sabine Bolk – Batik Researcher
Event Address: Embassy of the Republic Indonesia. Tobias Asserlaan 8, 2517 KC Den Haag

Registration is open until May 10th, 2022.
We are open to the public from all nationalities, with only 20 capacities!
The event will be held in English. However, Sabine will gladly help you in Dutch as well!
Registration fee: € 12.00/person (including material and snacks)

Please fill out the following form and pay the registration fee to confirm your participation at the batik workshop. By registering you confirm that you will be able to participate and be present at the venue throughout the course of the event. Register here:

Films Journey to Batik Projects Work on paper

Business card & Batik Consultation Suze Zijlstra

Two years ago, in 2020, historian and author Suze Zijlstra asked me if I knew someone to design her business card. She wanted something maybe with batik and referring to her research & upcoming book ‘De Voormoeders’. I sayed I would love to do it . When we had our first lockdown I started designing her card. A year later her card was printed and in September 2021 her book was published.
Since up till now Suze did not had many opportunities to hand out the card, I thought it would be nice to share the card, the inspiration & her book in a Batik Consultation video.

We talk in depth about one of Suze’s ancestors, Tan Kim Njo, and the batiks that she wore. And how those batiks inspired the business card I designed for Suze.

Now online on Youtube with Dutch & English subtitles:

Batik Consultation with Suze Zijlstra, historian and author of the book ‘De Voormoeders’ that was published last year. We talk in depth about one of Suze’s ancestors, Tan Kim Njo, and the batiks that she wore. And how those batiks inspired the business card I designed for Suze.

Books in the video:

‘De Voormoeders – Een verborgen Nederlands-Indische familiegeschiedenis’ by Suze Zijlstra (2021)
‘Batik Klasik – Classical batik’ by Drs. Hamzuri (1981)
‘Gedragen doeken – verhalen in batik’ by Liesje de Leeuw (2016)
‘Batik – Traditional textiles of Indonesia from the Rudolf Smend & Donald Harper Collections’ (2015)

Photo credits for photos/images used in the video:

Photos made available by Suze Zijlstra
Photos from the UB Leiden/KITLV collection:KITLV 4525 & KITLV 54280
Photo from Tropenmuseum TM-60033564
Photos of Batik, also styled with kebaya, special thank you to John Ang

Journey to Batik News

Webinar CIHC ‘Chinese Attire and Batik in Indonesia’ now online

Including a presentation by me on:

‘An overview of Peranakan batik in Dutch museums’
Artist and batik researcher Sabine Bolk (1984) will guide us through the batik collections in
the Netherlands, and talk about the batik produced today by the Peranakan Chinese
community in Java. She will show us where and how to find batiks made by Peranakan
Chinese batik entrepreneurs in the past, and takes us on her ‘journey to batik’ to meet some
of the current producers in Java.

Watch it back here:

Journey to Batik News

17 December 2021 until 12 June 2022 – Exhibition ‘Misleiden’ at De Lakenhal

Real or fake? That’s the question in Misleiden – Fakes from art and science. Stroll offline and online past more than twenty objects from nine Leiden collections that put you on the wrong track. On display from 17 December at Museum De Lakenhal and via digital platform Things That Talk. Do you dare to believe your eyes?

Whether an art object is real or fake is not always easy to say. Sometimes the desire for an object to be real takes over: then a researcher or enthusiast may have struck gold. We want something to be real, even if we can hardly believe our eyes.


What are counterfeiters’ motivations for doing what they do? And if an object is indistinguishable from the real thing, isn’t it a work of art in itself? These questions are central to the exhibition Misleiden, with which Leiden institutions offer a look behind the scenes of researchers and curators. The exhibition includes, for example, a stingray disguised as a dragon, a forged relief tile and a very cleverly copied eye.


The exhibition is a special collaboration of nine Leiden institutions: the objects come from the collections of Museum De Lakenhal, het Rijksmuseum van Oudheden, Rijksmuseum Boerhaave, Naturalis, Museum van Volkenkunde and Japan Museum SieboldHuis. There are also contributions from Leiden University Library, het Nederlands Instituut voor het Nabije Oosten (NINO) en Erfgoed Leiden en Omstreken. The collaborative project is an initiative of Alexander Mouret of the annual conference Brave New World and Fresco Sam-Sin of the digital platform Things That Talk, who is also a guest curator of the physical exhibition.

For the exhibition I was invited to be one of the storytellers. I share about the Leidsche Katoenmaatschappij and the imitations, the fake batiks, they made for the Southeast Asian market. On 17 December the exhibition starts at De Lakenhal with a display on this story & online you can read my story in full here

Echt of nep? Die vraag staat centraal bij Misleiden – Fakes uit kunst en wetenschap. Wandel offline én online langs ruim twintig objecten uit negen Leidse collecties die je op het verkeerde been zetten. Vanaf 17 december te zien bij Museum De Lakenhal en via het digitale platform Things That Talk. Durf jij je ogen te geloven?

Of een kunstobject echt is of nep, valt niet altijd even gemakkelijk te zeggen. Soms neemt de wens dat een voorwerp echt is de overhand: dan heeft een onderzoeker of liefhebber misschien wel goud in handen. We willen maar al te graag dat iets echt is, zelfs als we onze ogen bijna niet kunnen geloven.


Wat zijn de beweegredenen van vervalsers om te doen wat ze doen? En als een object niet van echt te onderscheiden is, is het dan niet een kunstwerk op zich? Die vragen staan centraal in de tentoonstelling Misleiden, waarmee Leidse instellingen een kijkje in de keuken van onderzoekers en conservatoren bieden. Zo zijn in de tentoonstelling bijvoorbeeld een als draak vermomde rog, een vervalste reliëftegel en een wel heel knap nagemaakt oog te bewonderen.


De tentoonstelling is een bijzondere samenwerking van negen Leidse instellingen: de objecten komen uit de collecties van onder andere Museum De Lakenhal, het Rijksmuseum van Oudheden, Rijksmuseum Boerhaave, Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Museum Volkenkunde en Japanmuseum SieboldHuis. Ook zijn er bijdragen uit de Leidse Universiteitsbibliotheek, het Nederlands Instituut voor het Nabije Oosten (NINO) en Erfgoed Leiden en Omstreken. Het samenwerkingsproject is een initiatief van Alexander Mouret van de jaarlijkse conferentie Brave New World en Fresco Sam-Sin van het digitale platform Things That Talk, tevens gastcurator van de fysieke tentoonstelling.

Boek ‘Misleiden – Schatten van verwarring’

Auteur: Fresco Sam-Sin & Alexander Mouret Fotografie: Cees de Jonge

Verschijnt op 1 April 2022 (echt waar!)

Pas op: de objecten in dit boek zijn vals en verwarrend. Negen Leidse collecties laten zien waarom misleiding de moeite waard is. Voor ons, omdat het knappe objecten met fascinerende verhalen heeft opgeleverd. Maar ook voor misleiders zelf, die er soms goed geld aan hebben verdiend.

Tussen de objecten vind je misleidingen als een eeuwenoud draakje, een Romeinse propagandistische badkamertegel en – jawel – een zeemeermin. Daarnaast bevat Misleiden essays van specialisten over beroemde en beruchte gevallen van fake en verwarring. Eén ding is zeker: na dit boek laat je je niet meer zo makkelijk voor de gek houden.

Journey to Batik News

Article in Textile Asia Journal

My first international English publication of an article is out now! The Textiles Asia Journal was happy to add a shorter version of the three articles I wrote in Dutch on the Elie van Rijckevorsel collection at the Wereldmuseum in Rotterdam (NL).

With the great title, suggested by my research supervisor Francine Brinkgreve, Interpreting Batik from the Van Rijckevorsel Collection, the article can be read in the September issue of the Textiles Asia Journal.

You can order a copy through or send me an email to request the PDF

Journey to Batik News

Article in publication Studies in Textiel 11: Revival van textiel

De noodzaak van duurzaam produceren en hergebruik van grondstoffen wordt steeds duidelijker, ook in de wereld van textiel. Kopen en dragen van vintage en tweedehands kleding is geen teken van armoede meer, maar is een statement geworden. Onderzoek binnen museumcollecties laat zien dat duurzaamheid en hergebruik bij textiel van alle tijden is: de meeste stukken blijken eindeloos vermaakt en gerepareerd. Er is een groeiende belangstelling voor huishoudelijk textiel en technieken als damast weven en (goud)borduren. Textiele ambachten worden opnieuw gewaardeerd. Onder de noemer Revival van textiel wordt in dit nummer van Studies in Textiel aan deze ontwikkelingen aandacht geschonken. Meer over mijn bedrage ‘Batik, tien jaar immaterieel erfgoed van Indonesië’ hieronder.

Batik, tien jaar immaterieel erfgoed van Indonesië
Sabine Bolk

In 2009 ondernam Sabine Bolk haar eerste ‘Reis naar batik’. Als net afgestudeerd beeldend kunstenaar zocht ze naar een manier om diepere betekenis te geven aan haar gebruik van, en liefde voor, patronen. Batik leren maken leek de oplossing te zijn, dus vertrok ze in 2009 voor een maand naar Java. Batik was op 2 oktober net immaterieel UNESCO erfgoed geworden, maar hoe ging het eigenlijk met deze traditie? Wat ze aantrof was een industrie ver verwijderd van het romantische beeld dat er in Nederland van heerst. Terug in Nederland realiseerde Sabine zich dat ze niet zelf een pembatik wilde worden: het zijn de verhalen, de patroonleer en de historie van batik die haar fascineren. Ze ging verder met haar blog en volgde de ontwikkeling van batik als beschermd erfgoed. Nu, tien jaar later, staat batik als ambacht helaas nog steeds onder druk. Gelukkig geeft de nieuwe generatie hoop! Er zijn nieuwe batikmakers die de traditie van het maken voortzetten. En er zijn nieuwe dragers, onderzoekers, ontwerpers, kunstenaars en andere batikfans, overal ter wereld, die batik verzamelen, tot mode maken en promoten.

Leden ontvangen een exemplaar in de week van 21 juni 2021.
Niet-leden kunnen exemplaren via mail bestellen o.v.v. SiT 11 Revival van textiel. Meer info op

Prijs: € 20,00 exclusief verzendkosten

Journey to Batik Projects

Storytelling concertfilm ‘Shishani & Sisterhood’

On Sunday 25 April 2021 19:00 Jakarta Time (UTC+7) Shishani, Erasmushuis Jakarta and Beyond Walls will launch the Storytelling concertfilm SHISHANI & SISTERHOOD followed by an Artist Talk hosted by Nancy Jouwe.

Watch it on our YouTube channel,, and/or Facebook Live (starting at 19h Jakarta Time/14h Dutch Time)

For SHISHANI & SISTERHOOD singer-songwriter and musicologist Shishani Vranckx dives into the various art forms in Indonesia, Java, Sumatra, the Moluccas and Papua and creates a personal interpretation of the works that inspires her with the help of her team of female artists.
Shishani brings together a diverse line-up of multi-disciplinary performers centralizing female artists. With: spoken word artist Tieka Masfar, tifa Tiga Batang Rumah, musician Wulan Dumatubun, dancer Asih Sungkono, batik expert Sabine Bolk and bass player Jaimie van Hek.
SHISHANI & SISTERHOOD is a storytelling concertfilm by Shishani Vranckx in collab with Erasmushuis Jakarta, Beyond Walls and

For the SIPA festival we performed ‘Shishani & Sisterhood’ through a livestream on 9 October 2021 from the Melkweg in Amsterdam (NL). Watch our performance back online!

Journey to Batik News

Watch back ~ Online presentation ‘Batik Lasem’

On 22 April from 19h till 20.30h I gave a presentation for Stichting Hibiscus for their online Cultural Month. This year the focus is on ‘Batik Lasem’. In my talk I take you through my journey to Batik of the last 12 years. As special guests Romée Mulder and Myrthe Groot of Guave made an appearance to share their first Batik journey and we revealed more on our collaboration for their new collection!

The Webinar is in Dutch

Journey to Batik News

Batik Stand Online – Batik Consultation with Cindy Smits

In this Digital Batik Consultation we talk with Cindy Smits about two special Batiks from her grandmother. What can these Batiks tells us? This Batik Consultation was released online on Instagram in June as part of our Batik Stand Online Program for Tong Tong Fair 2020.

The Batik Stand online is a collaboration between Guave, Tong Tong Fair & Sabine Bolk

Editing: Myrthe Groot & Sabine Bolk

Batiks: collection Cindy Smits

Photos & videos: Cindy Smits

Journey to Batik News

Spring 2021 – Third article in magazine ‘Tribale Kunst’

The third and final part of my article in three parts in the magazine ‘Tribale Kunst’. It was great to write in more depth on the development of Batik in the 19th century and to zoom in on some of the collections that make it possible to learn more about this time. It was wonderful to get to see the Dr. Elie van Rijckevorsel collection up and close and to write about the Batiks now on display at the Wereldmuseum (NL).

The magazine is only available for members of ‘Tribale Kunst’, you can see the magazine on their website & download it as a PDF. You can also send me email at to request it as a PDF. I am working on the English version, hopefully soon more news on that!

Journey to Batik Projects Work on paper

Zine ‘The Penguin & The Batik’

Made my first Zine! It is on one of those Batik story that I wanted to tell for a long time already & a little Zine in Riso turned out to be the perfect match for this strange tale; ‘The Penguin & The Batik’. I made the Zine with the great guidance & support of Michael van Kekem at his studio in Rotterdam (NL)

The Zine tells in 20 pages the story from the moment I discover a penguin on a Batik. A visual story made in Riso Print in edition of 25 pieces.

~ The Zine is sold out ~

Journey to Batik News Projects

Batik Stand Online – Batik Consultation with Rachel de Vries

In this second Batik Consultation we talk with Rachel de Vries who we met in 2019 at the Tong Tong Fair when she visited our Batik Stand and showed us two amazing Batiks. Both Batiks have an interesting place in the history of the Dutch East Indies and Indonesia. This Batik Consultation was released online on Instagram in June as part of our Batik Stand Online Program for Tong Tong Fair 2020. It is now on Youtube with Dutch & English subtitles.

The Batik Stand online is a collaboration between Guave, Tong Tong Fair & Sabine Bolk

Editing: Myrthe Groot & Sabine Bolk

Batiks: collection Rachel de Vries

Photos & videos: Rachel de Vries and Sabine Bolk

Journey to Batik News

Online presentatie Kostuumvereniging

Watch back my talk – in Dutch – I gave 20 November 2020 for the online webseries of the Nederlandse Kostuumvereniging on their YouTube page