The Indonesian islands are famous for their magnificent hand-woven cloths, colors and designs in material and creations, some intricate, others stunning in their pure simplicity. Each of the thousands of Indonesian islands produces its specific textile, most often based on philosophical and religious values that have been handed down through the generations.
To get a glimpse of the wide variety of these textiles, a visit to the Jakarta Textile Museum is simply a must.
Housed in an elegant colonial mansion, the Textile Museum is located, not incongruously, near the bustling textile wholesale market of Tanah Abang in Central Jakarta. But since it is set quite deep inside protected by shady trees, the museum itself is a haven of cool and quiet, where one can walk at leisure and admire its many attractive displays.
Set up with the purpose of conserving and furthering the precious art and culture of Indonesian craft in textiles, the Textile Museum was the brainchild of Jakarta’s much loved Governor Ali Sadikin, and was officially opened by then First Lady Mrs. Tien Soeharto on 28 June 1976.
Starting the collection, the Foundation for Indonesian Textiles under Ir Safioen, Director General for Textiles in the Ministry of Industry of the time, received donations of some 500 quality and rare cloths from around Indonesia. Today, the Museum has a collection of nearly 2,000 pieces dating from the 18th century to contemporary creations.
The Museum displays a wide spectrum of different cloths: batiks from Yogya and Solo, songkets from West Sumatra, many interwoven with silver and gold thread, hand-woven ikat cloths from Flores and Sumba, Bugis silk sarongs from Makassar in Sulawesi, to non-woven cloths from bark and animal fur. In the museum one can also see implements for thread preparations, weaving looms from the different regions, to textile ornamentations. The Museum also has a 2,000 sq, meters garden for natural dyes. There is a Batik gallery and a workshop where visitors may learn how to batik, weave or prepare dyes. Here visitors can observe the development of Indonesian textiles through the ages.
The mansion in which the Museum is housed was originally built in the 19th century by a Frenchman. Through the decades it changed hands a number of times, until the building was handed to the Jakarta local government, who then earmarked it to house the Jakarta Textile Museum.
The address of the Textile Museum is as follows:
Jl. Aipda K.S. Tubun No. 2 – 4, Jakarta Pusat
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