Solo

Our first day in Solo started off rather late – we went out for lunch at 1-ish at Warung Kita, a Chinese food stall just a few metres from Jalan Slamet Riyadi. We had Cap Cay (sauteed mixed vegetables – here they used the red sauce) and Ayam Goreng Mentega (fried chicken in butter sauce) — see also my post about food in Semarang & Solo.

After lunch my parents went back to the hotel so I had a stroll along Jalan Slamet Riyadi. I visited the House of Danar Hadi, although unfortunately the workshop (where you can see craftswomen make the batik – ie. draw patterns on a sheet of fabric with wax) was already closed 😦

Nevertheless, I still took the guided tour through the gallery rooms, where I had some insights about batik – how they were made, the history, etc. In the late 1800s some batik patterns were designed by Dutch women (Batik Belanda – ) so they used European plants and animals in their designs, like clovers and swallows, and European fairy tales like the Little Red Riding Hood. Most of the batik displayed in the museum/gallery were part of Danar Hadi designs, but there were also some rare batik from the palaces (Kasunanan Surakarta, Mangkunegaran, and Kesultanan Yogyakarta). There were significant differences between batik patterns worn by the royals and peasants, which was probably influenced by the Hindu’s caste system. The influence of Hindu culture could be easily seen in the Batik patterns, with the images of Garuda and living organisms. Apart from the Hindu/Indian culture, batik was also influenced by the Chinese (eg. the Mega Mendung pattern), Arabic (no animals, only drawing of plants), Ceylon, etc. After the independence, Soekarno ‘nationalised’ batik, made it a part of Indonesian culture (instead of exclusively Javanese) and batik started to be worn as tops (shirts, etc) – instead of just as sarong. A nice surprise for me was to see a batik designed Guruh. Not only that he could design the batik, he could also batik (ie. do all the processes, like drawing, putting on the wax, dyeing, etc..). Super-awesome.

Danar Hadi itself is a batik house owned by Santoso Doellah, a descendant of batik craftsmen who started making batik since he was very young. The name Danar Hadi came from the names of his wife, Danarsih, and the first name of his mother-in-law.

After that quick tour around the batik museum, I decided to go to Triwindhu, an antique market 1.2km away. It was a breezy Saturday afternoon so I went to the market on foot, passing some small streets with traditional houses. I stumbled on a “Mondriaan-coloured” balai (gazebo) – a place to relax and to discuss or share light moments.

Halfway to Triwindu, I saw Sekawan, a book shop which I used to go to when I was a kid. This was the same shop where I bought the ‘Frankie Goes to Hollywood’ book in 1995 (!) Surely I could not resist the temptation to visit the book shop and bought some more “Cap Kera” notebooks. I used to regularly buy Kera notebooks, to write all sorts of things I saw on the telly (basically I wanted to make an early form of wikipedia, hahaha). Kera notebooks are especially good when you write with a bic ballpoint. [see also my visits to book shops in Semarang and Solo here]

After that nostalgic visit, I continued to walk to Triwindu, where I kept saying to myself that I would not spend too much money (or time) in that market, because unfortunately, with the stream of foreign tourists coming to the market, the prices were also ‘touristy’. And I am very bad at bargaining prices. I only bought a brass turtle paper weight and three tin cups, and that was it. So I thought. I did my final round on the second floor when a shopkeeper offered me to go inside her shop and browse. And.. that was when I found the old photos. They were basically black-and-white photos from the early 20th century, most of them were from a wealthy Chinese family living in Solo. I bought some of their family portraits and their personal holiday photos, and some other random pictures which I found rather intriguing. Have a look at some of the black-and-white photos here.

It was almost 5 already when I left Triwindu. I was about to walk back to the hotel when an old becak guy offered me his service, and I just couldn’t say no.

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