The Heritage Batik Keris House is one of the top tourist attractions in Solo, Central Java, Indonesia. It includes a restaurant, a souvenir store, and most importantly, it is a historic Dutch-style house that acts as a Batik gallery and also a museum at the same time. Admission to the aforementioned historic house is free, although visitors are required to make any type of purchase from the souvenir store to gain free admission to the museum. (For context, Batik Keris is one of the most well-known Batik brands in Indonesia).
The house, built in the 19th century, was originally inhabited by Dutch officials before it was taken up by the ancestors of the current Batik Keris owners. However, during the 1920s, the family suddenly left the house abandoned when they fled Indonesia for the Netherlands. During the decades that followed, the derelict house was left to rot as it became dilapidated and worn down. Later on, it was also overrun by bats, earning it the name “Omah Lowo” (House of Bats).
Eventually, Handianto Tjokrosaputra (founder and former owner of Batik Keris) managed to claim the property back in 2016 as the house technically belonged to his family. From there, he drew up plans to renovate the house and turn it into a historical site of Batik Keris.
It must be said though, that lots of work had to be done: the house, being uninhabited for nearly a century, had thick layers of bat droppings that lined the floor as well as some parts of the walls. However, layers of droppings did, in turn, help to preserve the floor and wall tiles (yep, the floor and wall tiles you see in the photos and video are true of their original form). The ceiling, however, was falling apart so it had to be replaced; and the exterior of the house also had to be repainted in full.
Renovation work was finally completed in October 2020, which was when the museum was finally opened to the public. Today, many valuable Batik textiles and a number of antique pieces of furniture are on display on location, which helps relive what life in that house must’ve been like.
It’s amazing how we are able to experience 19th-century life here in the 21st century!
As for the Batik textiles on display, they are all very special because they are all hand-drawn, meaning that every Batik shown there is a unique, one-of-a-kind edition.
There are two ways to produce Batik: printing and hand-drawing. Printing is quicker and more cost-effective as it allows companies to mass produce Batik textiles as they are printed by machines, instead of individually hand-drawn by a crafter; hand-drawing Batik takes much longer and definitely much more expensive than printing because each piece of Batik is delicately hand-drawn by a skillful artist using traditional methods.
The prices of hand-drawn Batik shown in the museum range from 5 million rupiah to 50 million rupiah, equivalent to USD$326 to USD$3268!
This wardrobe cabinet shown in the picture houses hand-drawn Batik textiles that have a combined worth of around USD 40 million. They are truly works of art.
Depending on body size or needs, each of these Batik textile sheets is sized to make approximately one shirt or blouse. Most importantly, the prices are determined by the complexity of the pattern as well as the amount of time it takes to hand-draw (it takes between five months and up to a year to complete one piece of Batik, again, depending on the complexity of the patterns).
Watch the reel of this Heritage Batik Keris House tour on our Instagram.
We are very grateful to be able to learn and experience the Batik culture of Indonesia, even though it’s just surface knowledge. Stay tuned for more updates on our adventures.
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