We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.


Shouldercloth (slendang)

20th century


Unknown Artist

  • Details

    Place where the work was made
    Cirebon West Java Java Indonesia
    Cultural origin
    Peranakan Chinese
    20th century
    Media category
    Materials used
    silk, natural dyes; batik
    51.4 x 285.0 cm
    Signature & date

    Not signed. Not dated.

    Bequest of Alex Biancardi 2000
    Not on display
    Accession number
    © Copyright reserved

    Reproduction requests

  • About

    Across Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore communities of integrated heritage are known by the Malay word peranakan (descendent). Peranankan Chinese also known as Straits Chinese are personified by the Baba-Nonya (Grandfather-Grandmother). Generally, Peranakan Chinese communities are made up of the descendants of the marriage between Chinese men and local women, where the man’s religious beliefs remain dominant while the woman’s cultural traits prevail. At the beginning of the 20th century four main Peranakan Chinese communities were linked by maritime routes from the island of Penang on the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia down to Malacca, then Singapore and Pekalongan on the north coast of Java. The first three communities are known to have produced beautiful silver ware, furniture, and embroidery yet they are not known to have produced batik. As such batik industries on the north coast of Java were central in the design, manufacture and supply of batik to the other three peranakan port communities.

    This example of Javanese silk shoulder cloth is typical of the cloths made or ordered by the Chinese Javanese, which were also exported to Bali, Sumatra, Singapore and the Malay peninsula. Its fluid organic design of phoenix, bird and plant motifs is typically Peranakan Chinese, drawing inspiration from sources as varied as porcelain bowls, lidded boxes and Chinese embroideries.