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Wronska-Friend, Maria (2016). Batik Jawa Bagi Dunia: Javanese Batik to the World, Jakarta: Komunitas Lintas Budaya Indonesia, ISBN 978-602-99212-7-4, softback, 235 pp., fully illustrated in b/w and colour, short bibliography, glossary. Price: c. US$ 30.

A bilingual study of Javanese batik, how it is made, its role in Java, Indonesia, and elsewhere. It is the ‘elsewhere’ that makes this book different. There are numerous books on Indonesian, and in particular Javanese batiks. Wronska-Friend, however, has looked at the presence of Javanese batik in Europe, Africa, India, Australia as well as how Javanese batik forms have been picked up worldwide. The book uses illustrations from the late nineteenth century to the present day. It shows how batik is used as clothing in Java as well as influencing Western and Indian fashions. She has also tracked down batik motifs in paintings and sketches by various famous painters, such as Matisse.

Recommendation: This is a book written by someone who is obsessed with a subject, in this case Javanese batik. Wronska-Friend has literally travelled around the world finding, recording and reflecting upon this impressive dyeing technique. This book is recommended to anyone interested in batik, but also to those who are intrigued how one specific type of textile technique can be found in many guises and with an equally intriguing cultural, economic and political history.

Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood

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