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On Thursday, 21st May, 2020, Gillian Vogelsang wrote:

At a time that the corona crisis is still spreading, more and more people are talking about sustainability, about the re-use of garments, and they are also wondering what will happen if this or that material is no longer widely available.

A wrap-over jacket made from bark bast, Sulawesi, Indonesia, 1940's (TRC 2018.0042).A wrap-over jacket made from bark bast, Sulawesi, Indonesia, 1940's (TRC 2018.0042).

Two years ago the TRC was given a group of objects that shows what actually happened following an acute shortage of cotton in Indonesia. During the Second World War (1939-1945) and more particularly during the Japanese occupation of Indonesia, there was very little cotton left in the country for the local men and women, as vast quantities of cotton were needed for Japanese military use. So some people on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi started to make traditional-style garments (blouses, sarongs, etc) from bark bast cloth, especially bast from the Sago Palm tree (Cycas revoluta).

Bark bast is removed from the inside of the bark, soaked in water and then beaten with wooden mallets until a cohesive sheet is created. The sheets are then allowed to dry. To make larger sheets a natural gum or glue is used to stick pieces together.

A sarong made from bark bast, Sulawesi, Indiensia, 1940's (TRC 2018.0040).
A sarong made from bark bast, Sulawesi, Indiensia, 1940's (TRC 2018.0040).

The garments donated to the TRC were made out of large sheets of tree bast that were cut to shape and then painted with local dyes. The TRC Leiden was given four items, a sarong (TRC 2018.0040), a rectangular piece (TRC 2018.0041), a wrap-over jacket (TRC 2018.0042), and a round sheet (TRC 2018.0043). All of these pieces are decorated with floral and geometric patterns.

The garments were collected by C.P. van Strien, a Dutch official in Kolonodale, who was appointed in c. 1945. They were given to the TRC in Leiden by the Van Strien family in 2018.

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Hogewoerd 164
2311 HW Leiden.
Tel. +31 (0)71 5134144 /
+31 (0)6 28830428  

The TRC is open again from Tuesday, 2nd June, but by appointment only.

Bank account number:
NL39 INGB 0002 9823 59,
Stichting Textile Research Centre

TRC Gallery exhibition:
5 Febr. -27 August 2020: American Quilts

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The TRC is dependent on project support and individual donations. All of our work is being carried out by volunteers. To support the TRC activities, we therefore welcome your financial assistance: donations can be transferred to bank account number NL39 INGB 000 298 2359, in the name of the Stichting Textile Research Centre.
Since the TRC is officially recognised as a non-profit making cultural institution (ANBI), donations are tax deductible for 125% for individuals, and 150% for commercial companies. For more information, click here
Financial donations to the TRC can also be made via Paypal: