Thursday, April 29, 2010

The use of batik as bookbindings. Not Dutch but Indonesian.

Batik is well known in pre-war Dutch bookbindings, but this mostly concerns (Dutch-produced) imitation batik. Sometimes as a logical extension of Indonesian mood, such as the popular childrens books of S. Franke or the 'luxury' edition of Lelyvelt's Javaanse danskunst. But also other books tried to boost their sales with the warm character of dense batik patterns: the charming series of the Dutch 'Meulenhoff Kleine Boekjes' series frequently featured batik patterns, even if only sometimes printed on wafer-thin paper.
Besides this popular and commercial use, there also was a 'Nieuwe Kunst' (Art Nouveau) development, which featured Dutch artists like Lebeau and Lion Cachet producing beautiful batik bindings in a distinct style. In the first quarter of the twentieth century batik (as a kind of ultimate fulfilment of the Jugendstil dream of handproduced textile craft, in which every object was unique) would stretch its influence all over Western art.
The use of batik for bookbindings in Indonesia itself, however, is a relatively unknown terrain. The bindings depicted above shows that copperstamped batik was used by Indonesian artisan themselves. As you can see from the label there must have been a (large? or just local?) market for serially produced batik bindings.

For a general view on Dutch colonial attitude towards batik and its collectibility, see link

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