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Weavers’ Stories: Raden Ayu Brongtodiningrat & Wiwin Fitriana

Raden Ayu Brongtodiningrat’s mother, who was renowned for her skill in making batik, was a daughter of Sultan Hamangkubuwono VIII of Yogyakarta. Growing up within the walled palace complex, her daughter learned not only how to wax batik with her mother and aunts but also the poetic meanings of the patterns and the complex rules of etiquette involving the cloth. Now seventy-five, Raden Ayu Brongtodiningrat is still actively involved in the life of the palace. She no longer makes batik herself, but when she needs a special cloth, she will take one that was made by her mother and bring it to her favorite batik maker to have a copy made in the old style.

Raden Ayu Brongtodiningrat’s daughter-in-law, Wiwin Fitriana, grew up as the daughter of a businessman and had little involvement with the etiquette of the palace or, for that matter, with batik at all. She became interested only when she found employment in a batik firm, although she was involved then only in marketing rather than design. Piqued by the artistic challenge, however, she soon founded her own firm, Batik Mataram. Today she makes batik for the fashion market, targeting upper middle-class buyers primarily from Jakarta. Wiwin Fitriana has developed her own specialty, based on the use of subdued colors and the mixing of various traditional patterns in a single piece.

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