press enter to search

Mataguru: A tribute to batik maestro Iwan Tirta

Josa Lukman

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Thu, December 12, 2019  /  03:42 pm
Mataguru: A tribute to batik maestro Iwan Tirta

Tribute: The Iwan Tirta Private Collection's latest collection Mataguru is dedicated to the late maestro. (JP/Dionnasius Aditya)

Handmade batik may come at a high price, but the quality is a reminder that the fabric was made by the hands of skilled artisans utilizing techniques and knowledge perfected throughout the ages.

In an era when you can purchase batik-patterned fabrics on the cheap, authentic handmade batik has become somewhat of a luxury.

The name of late maestro Iwan Tirta is closely associated with handmade batik.

Iwan received a law degree from Yale in the United States in 1965 but turned to his attention to preserving the heritage of batik in the 1970s, a passion he maintained until his passing in 2010.

He had illustrious clients, chief among them being Ronald and Nancy Reagan as well as Nelson Mandela. Notably, he dressed visiting dignitaries for the 1994 APEC summit in Bogor, West Java.

Iwan’s legacy has lived on through the Iwan Tirta Private Collection, which was originally set up to manage Iwan’s private collection of batik, ceramics and art.

Now, the Iwan Tirta Private Collection carries on Iwan’s spirit in its creation of batik pieces, a reminder that batik is a wearable art form.

East meets west: Some pieces combine traditional batik cloth with western style garments.East meets west: Some pieces combine traditional batik cloth with western style garments. (Courtesy of Alphabet Company/-)

The batik house has released new collections every year, and its collection for 2020, Mataguru, pays tribute to the maestro himself.

“Mataguru is a token of our appreciation to the successors of maestro Iwan Tirta, who have kept batik culturally relevant from one generation to the next,” said Iwan Tirta Private Collection CEO Widiyana Sudirman in a statement.

“Culturally relevant” batik would typically be associated with fashion-forward silhouettes and more contemporary batik patterns, yet the Iwan Tirta Private Collection never strays far from tradition.

Its silhouettes tend to be more conservative, favoring straight cuts over body-hugging curves. Loose might be one way to describe the designs, but at the same time they are very structured for that prim-and-proper styling that so encapsulates batik as formal wear.

Formal: The men's silhouettes are classically masculine, with boxy shapes and a strong shoulder line.Formal: The men's silhouettes are classically masculine, with boxy shapes and a strong shoulder line. (Courtesy of Alphabet Company/-)

Womenswear pieces have a little bit more of an experimental feel to them, incorporating some trend elements like tulle as well as balloon sleeves for a play on proportions.

The menswear holds true to tradition, with an emphasis on strong shoulders from padding and largely boxy silhouettes throughout the line. 

Some of the more contemporary looks balance styling with fitted trousers, at times pairing formal long-sleeved shirts with fitted shorts that would surely get looks if one was to wear them to a formal event.

But batik has never been about proportions and silhouettes; the textile is the “hero” piece. The large and boxy cuts are a deliberate choice to feature the patterns more clearly, instead of cutting them up just to follow the contours of the body.

The presentation of the collection was split into three sequences, each inspired by the three stages of a wayang (shadow puppet) performance: Talu, Adeg Jejer and Adeg Sabrang.

Tribute: The Iwan Tirta Private Collection's latest collection Mataguru is dedicated to the late maestro.Tribute: The Iwan Tirta Private Collection's latest collection Mataguru is dedicated to the late maestro. (JP/Dionnasius Aditya)

Talu featured pohon hayat (tree of life) and gunungan kekayon patterns, which are commonly used as symbols to mark the opening of a wayang show. This part of the show mainly featured grey tones, which contrasted with the natural browns of the patterns.

The next sequence was Adeg Jejer, which featured patterns associated with royalty such as parangmangkuto (crown) and gurdo, displayed in traditional browns. The patterns are commonly seen in Javanese keraton (palaces).

The show was closed out with Adeg Sabrang, which utilized vibrant colors and floral patterns with depictions of birds. The style was influenced by the cultures of Europe and China and is typical to batik from coastal areas.

While each batik pattern has its own meaning, the sequences of the show also paid tribute to Iwan’s batik journey.

The journey opened with Talu, with its pohon hayat patterns symbolizing the origins of the universe and the cycle of life. Adeg Jejer signified Iwan’s journey learning about batik from behind the walls of a keraton.

Finally, Adeg Sabrang was meant to represent how Iwan infused his own take on international fashion into highly traditional batik.

While not everyone can own an authentic batik piece, the central takeaway is that batik is about more than just patterns, it is an art form worth preserving.(ste)

 

Your premium period will expire in 0 day(s)

close x
Subscribe to get unlimited access Get 50% off now