Kemben (Breast Cloth)

DATE:
1930
MATERIAL AND TECHNIQUE:
Batik on commercial cotton
CLASSIFICATION:
Textiles
DIMENSIONS:
93 1/2 × 20 1/8 in. (2 m 37.49 cm × 51.12 cm)
DEPARTMENT:
Arts of the Pacific Islands
LOCATION:
Not On View
CREDIT LINE:
Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Bywaters in memory of Paul and Viola van Katwijk
OBJECT NUMBER:
1982.287

General Description

The typical length (ninety-three and one-half inches) and central narrow lozenge shape mark this batik as a breast cloth (kemben). Combined with a sarong, a breast cloth is most commonly wound from left to right across the upper body, one corner tucked in at the top and the other in at the waist. Although most women today wear a blouse with their sarong, court dance costumes still include a breast cloth.

A foliage design, perhaps an imitation of the traditional new growth (semen) pattern of curling tendrils, covers the batik. The pointed ends of the undyed central lozenge are decorated with small floral motifs. Short lines called "flames or tongues of fire" edge the border. The foliage pattern was probably created with a cap (metal stamp) before dyeing, most likely with soga brown and indigo.

Excerpt from

  • Label text, Waxed: Batik from Java, 2016.