18 April 2018

A Tribute To Batik Maestro

83 years ago today, an Indonesian Batik Maestro called Iwan Tirta was born. To celebrate his birth date, Waykambas creates a tribute that depicts his Batik journey, his Batik philosophy, and the continuance of his legacy to date.

His designs come straight from the heart of Javanese tradition and he is well-known for his legendary batik collections and extravagant fashion shows. Often credited for introducing Indonesian batik to the world, let's dig deeper on a brief biography of the maestro.

A Devoted Batik Journey
Graduated from Yale Law School, Iwan Tirta switched his paths in the 1960s after his interest in batik was awakened during a research project on the sacred dance of Central Java. Since then, he started documenting batik in many Indonesian villages and eventually published his first book in 1962. He took Batik to a new level by combining historical Batik knowledge with glamorous fashion sensibilities; where elements of design were reconstructed, revived, and brought up-to-date, thus keeping batik's existence throughout the world. Through his signature design — his creations entered into the pages of Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, onto international catwalks and have been worn by world leaders, celebrities and royal members such as Queen Elizabeth II and Bill Clinton.

A Profound Batik Philosophy
Having a profound understanding of Batik, Iwan Tirta sees Batik as a sacred art. For him, “Batik embraces elements of meditation. Like a dancer, controlled breathing is essential in batik, ego must be reduced to achieve the harmony.” He believed that every piece of cloth they created inherited the sukma—inner soul—of its maker for the merit of the wearer. It was this philosophy and his innate love for batik that constantly encouraged him to keep innovating on the storied tradition.

A Living Legacy
Despite his passing in 2010, he had impressively created more than 10,000 original batik designs. In the last years of his life, Tirta also expanded his creations from fashion into other products such as ceramics and silverware. In 2003, the maestro bequeathed all of his batik legacy and designs to Iwan Tirta Private Collection (ITPC). Now under the creative direction of Era Soekamto, Iwan Tirta Private Collection translates these sumptuous batik fabrics into authentic and contemporary pieces for those who want to treasure the late designer's heritage. Hereupon, Iwan Tirta had left a truly unparalleled legacy that shall live on. And as he once said, "We cannot move forward without preserving our past." 

PS: Since 2015, Waykambas has been honored to be part of Iwan Tirta Private Collection (ITPC). Click here to see what contribution has the team made, including what has challenged us along the process.

Yosephine Salim