On our way to Solo (Surakarta) my guide Eco told me there had been a small eruption from Marapi in the early hours. He told me it was normal and usually happened every 2 months or so when Merapi “lets off steam” or ash dust in this case.
Our first stop was at Laweyan batik Village, an area where batik has been traded since the 14th Century. We visited a little workshop and I watched the men use caps ( pronounced tjaps) to print in wax the classic Parang design onto reams of cotton.
When I say “print”, it sounds fast and easy and automated, but this technique takes extreme skill to do, without dripping wax or overlapping the repeat. I’ve tried it myself and I am useless !
The highlight was the Danar Hadi Museum, one of the biggest private collections of batik dating back to the 16th Century right up to today. It showed designs from Yogyakarta and Surakarta with distinctly different styles, the two Realms having been divided and in conflict before and during the Dutch occupation, wanted to assert their own power and individuality in their batik.
Also on show were exquisitely detailed batiks influenced by China from Cirebon and from Pekalongan.
The Museum guide rushed our group of 6 round so fast I could barely take it in or take photographs, which seemed ridiculous because the place was empty almost. After the tour I pleaded with him for more time just to take some photos, he said he’d get someone to escort me, but the escort never turned up; I had free run of the huge collection for half an hour before they found me. It was all good humoured and I got some good shots !