The design of this batik sarong is influenced by motifs of Chinese birds and flowers. This style is characteristic for Java’s north coast, especially from the town of Lasem. In the 14th and 15th century, when it was one of the harbours for the Majapahit Empire, Chinese merchants, trading in silk and porcelain, settled here. Nowadays Lasem is a quiet town, but the Chinese influence is still clearly visible.
The most prominent motif on this sarong are the rows of elongated triangles that represent bamboo shoots, pucuk rebung in Indonesian, a symbol of fertility. This is a very common motif on batik hip cloths from the north coast of Java as well as on woven textiles from other parts of Indonesia, i.a. West and South Sumatra and Bali. The many dots in the background depict young rice plants in the paddy fields. The red colour is a natural dye obtained from the root bark of the Morinda citrifolia tree, in Indonesian known as mengkudu.
Surabaya; second half-19th century; cotton, natural dyes