VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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Canting
1939.3.29
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

Batik that is drawn by hand is called batik tulis (handwritten). Batik tulis is very special and quite expensive compared to other types of batik, because the process of batik tulis needs skill, experience, precision, and patience and it’s a time-consuming process to finish just one batik tulis. Batik tulis designs are drawn and created by hand with a canting, the pen–like applicator which is used to apply the wax to the cloth to create the intricate designs. Canting is an Indonesian traditional tool that is used to apply wax in fine dots and lines on a cloth. The handle of the canting is made from bamboo, attached to a copper bowl that has a tiny spout, as a pen–like applicator on the edge of the bowl. The copper bowl functions as a container which is filled with melted wax that the batik artist takes from the small wok. The wok (wajan) is a container for melting and keeping the wax at the proper temperature. If the wax is too cool, it will be frozen and cause the wax in the canting to stagnate. If the wax is too hot, it will flow too quickly. Batik tulis is mostly produced by female workers. They sit on a low stool or on a mat to apply the wax with a canting. In order to clear the canting from any obstructions, they often blow into the spout of the canting. Normally, they have a napkin on their lap, in order to protect themselves from the dripping of the hot wax. They will dip the copper bowl of the canting into the wax and draw designs in a cloth by taking the cloth on their left palm. Batik is waxed on both sides of the cloth to ensure that the pattern will be well defined and as the pattern should be identical on both sides.

History of the Object
One of the museum’s mission statements is to be receptive to and to collaborate with groups that represent objects in the collections. This applies to the interpretations and availability of the existing objects and in the collecting of new objects that highlight contemporary cultural meetings, conflicts and influences. In keeping with this, members of the local Indonesian community in Göteborg were asked to chose objects that they felt they could relate to and that carried a special personal inherent relevance to them.

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Type
Other 
Materials
wood, copper 
Measurements
Length 12 cm  
Creator name
unknown 
Creator date
Unknown 
Where it was made
Indonesia; Java 
Geography
Indonesia 
Time period
AD 20th century ~ AD 20th century 
Creation date
20th Century; ca 1900 
Function
Production of batik 
Acquisition
Purchased from from the estate of the Swedish explorer and author Erik Mjoberg in 1939. The object was collected ca 1910. 
Copyright
 
Acknowledgements
 
Owner
Museum of World Culture, Sweden 
Museum
Museum of World Culture 
Credit line
 

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