Photo: Needs a steady hand.

Danar Hadi Batik Museum

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The Danar Hadi Batik Museum, established by the owner of the Danar Hadi batik company, has an exquisite collection of antique batik materials, and we’d say a visit here is a highlight of a visit to Solo—even more so than the palaces.

Situated behind what looks like a typical upmarket batik boutique, the museum is a sample of the personal collection of the owner. Our extremely knowledgable guide explained that the collections are periodically swapped out so no two visits are exactly the same.

Unassuming street frontage. Photo taken in or around Danar Hadi Batik Museum , Solo, Indonesia by Stuart McDonald.

Unassuming street frontage. Photo: Stuart McDonald

A word on visiting the museum. You’re not permitted to enter the museum unattended, instead you’ll be accompanied through by an English speaking guide—this is excellent as we found the guiding to be of a superior standard and not one of our many questions went unanswered. However, there is also no photography allowed. We begged and still were told no. You are allowed to take photos in the small workshop, but in the museum itself, no photos. Lastly, no touching—unless the guide explicitly allows it, you are not allowed to touch any of the fabrics.

While you may encounter batik across much of both Indonesia and Malaysia, Java is considered the home to some of the most highly developed pieces. The process involves using wax to create dots and lines to a sheet of cotton (or silk) to create a pattern (which is initially drawn onto the cloth with a pencil) after which the cloth is soaked in a dye. Post dying, the cloth is boiled to remove the wax, or the wax is scraped off, and then the process is repeated to add other colours and patterns to the cloth. Another process involves using metal stamps to print patterns onto the cloth. Regardless of which approach is used, it is a highly skilled yet laborious and extremely time consuming process.

Tracing a pattern in the workshop. Photo taken in or around Danar Hadi Batik Museum , Solo, Indonesia by Stuart McDonald.

Tracing a pattern in the workshop. Photo: Stuart McDonald

The batik in the museum is grouped into different styles, from those designed by Dutch women during the colonial period, to Chinese-inspired batik and to patterns worn exclusively by the Yogyakarta and Solo royal families. Each room is broken up into separate sections pertaining to a particular style or period. There are also selections from different regions around Indonesia.

As you walk through the guide will explain what you’re looking at and talk you through the symbolism of the designs. The guide will go as in depth as you want, so don’t be shy about asking lots of questions—likewise if you want to push on, say so—there is a lot of batik to get through. The quality of the fabric on display, and the huge variety of designs, makes a visit to this museum akin to visiting an art gallery.

Painstaking work. Photo taken in or around Danar Hadi Batik Museum , Solo, Indonesia by Stuart McDonald.

Painstaking work. Photo: Stuart McDonald

Once you are finished in the museum itself you’ll be escorted into a small workshop at the rear where you can see a group of women laboriously making the batik. This is the only area where you are allowed to take photos. A piece can take upwards of two months to finish while more detailed pieces can take as long as a year to create. Not surprisingly, good batik doesn’t come cheap and there is a gift shop on site where you can pick up some beautiful pieces as gifts for friends back home (or for yourself of course).

A visit to the museum should be considered a must see for those interested in batik, but even to the casual non-aficionado this is a fascinating museum well worth a visit. A walk through at a comfortable pace will take 45 minutes to an hour and from here it is a short walk to continue on to the Radya Pustaka Museum.

Danar Hadi Batik Museum
Jl Slamet Riyadi 261, Solo
Mo–Su: 09:00–16:30
T: (0271) 714 326 F: (0271) 714 253;
Admission: 35,000 rupiah

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