By Carol Masters, Becketwood Member
Becketwood residents and guests have enjoyed February’s gallery showing of the Sugiartos’ fine collection of Indonesian masks, batik hangings and clothing, and shadow puppets. Artists Laurie and Toto Sugiarto, daughter and son-in-law of Eunice Milbrath, met in Indonesia and pursued their careers in art there and back in this country. Laurie and Toto wore traditional Indonesian dress for the Art Opening; Laurie spoke about some of the pieces and had written descriptions in both galleries.
The Mahabharata Wayang Kulit (below) are ornate leather shadow puppets made from water buffalo skins; the sticks are cut from water buffalo horns. They tell a complex story involving generations of family feuds, battles and wars, with individual depictions of great adventures and life lessons. Laurie told us that ceremonial performances, such as at a wedding, could last eight to nine hours.
Indonesian batik is a technique of wax-resist dyeing applied to whole cloth made either by drawing dots and lines of the resist with a spouted tool called a tjanting. It has many diverse patterns, influenced by a variety of cultures, and is the most developed in terms of pattern, technique, and the quality of workmanship.
The Topeng masks are hand-carved wood; most in the display are batiked with the tjanting. The use of masks relates to the cult of ancestors, which considers the masked dancers interpreters of gods.
The gorgeously patterned Kebaya (blouse) and Kain Pajang (trousers) is a traditional Javanese Indonesian woman’s dress that originated in the court of Javanese Majapahit Kingdom during the 13th to 16th centuries. The cloth bottom batik is wrapped around the legs and waist, with a matching scarf (sarong) draped over a shoulder.