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Nini Towok’s Spinning Wheel: Cloth and the Cycle of Life in Kerek, Java”

“Courtly and Urban Batik from Java”

Roy Hamilton,
Principal Museum Scientist (Senior Curator for Asian and Pacific Collections),
Fowler Museum
Department of World Arts and Cultures, UCLA

The community of Kerek is the last place in Java where batik is still produced on handwoven cotton cloth and where a full range of handwoven textiles provides the foundation for a remarkable system of knowledge. Named after Nini Towok, the Javanese goddess who cultivates cotton in the heavens and sends her yarn to Earth in for form of moonbeams, the exhibition, guest curated by Dutch textile scholar Rens Heringa, explores the multiple meanings of Kerek’s rustic but beautiful textiles. Many fine examples of these rarely seen cloths illustrate the various techniques, patterns, and color combinations. The exhibition concludes with a series of seventeen outfits, each specific to a particular individual according to their sex, age, social status, occupation, and place of residence. Fowler Curator Roy Hamilton will give TMA/SC members an exclusive Gallery Tour of the exhibition, which will also include the concurrent exhibition “Fowler in Focus: Courtly and Urban Batik from Java,” drawn from the Fowler Museum’s extensive holdings of Indonesian textiles, including eleven beautiful textiles which offer fine examples of both courtly and urban batik from Java. The two contrasting styles equally testify to the remarkable free-form artistry that is the hallmark of fine hand-waxed batik.
Roy Hamilton, Principal Museum Scientist (Senior Curator for Asian and Pacific Collections), is a graduate of Stanford University, with an MA in Museum Studies/Anthropology, University of Washington. He is the head and supervisor of the Fowler’s curatorial staff, and is responsible for the development of exhibitions and publications on a variety of subjects based on the museum's Asian/Pacific collections. In addition to being co-curator of the Nini Towok exhibition, Roy is the curator of Courtly and Urban Batik from Java, and the video Weaver’s Stories. His textile exhibitions at the Fowler have included Material Choices: Bast and Leaf Fiber Textiles; The Art of Rice: Spirit and Sustenance in Asia; Wild Silk, Island Fibers: Rare Textiles from Madagascar; From the Rainbow’s Varied Hue: Textiles of the Southern Philippines; The Women's Warpath: Iban Ritual Fabrics from Borneo, and many more, and he has authored the catalogs which accompany these exhibitions, as well as other publications. He also directs major ongoing research programs in art and material culture of Asia and the Pacific, including field research and collecting, and the development of cooperative efforts with Southeast Asian museums.


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