A fine cotton batik sarong hand-drawn in Pekalongan with the classic north coast design of long-legged cranes standing in a water-lily pond. It has an unusually fresh effect due to the light but bright color composition, typical of the Peranakan Chinese skill with in-between shades, both bright and soft. Vivid salmon flowers with green centers and pale yellow stamens are interleaved with pale blue petals, and their richly curving forms are complemented by large-bodied cranes whose arching necks give them a certain poise. Especially beautiful is the fine detailing of the motifs, for which the best Chinese batik makers were unrivalled. Clusters of tiny dots fill the flowers, the leaves have several kinds of feathery inner motifs (isen), and the bi-colored salmon and red leaves have an interesting 3-dimensionality. Birds and butterflies hover above, and the entire design is set off by an ochre diamond lattice with the jelamprang motif, a traditional Pekalongan motif representing woven cloth.
The contrasting head panel (kepala) has vertical salmon and pinstriped bands decorated with garlands of lilies in the same colors. The fine diagonal lines were one of the most difficult and highly prized background patterns, requiring great skill and impossible to imitate with the copper stamp. Separating the bands are lively blue and green zigzags executed in tiny square units that again imitate woven patterns. The borders along the edges are asymmetrical: the upper green border contains a delicately looping vine, while the undulating lower red border is defined by cream and red lilies, thus extending the head panel's contrast along the edge of the body.
The drawing is exceptionally sharp and precise, creating a crisp, sparkling design enhanced by the fine pale yellow and green leaves as well as the white filler motifs. The hand-drawn signature of “Gan Tjoe Liam / Pekalongan” appears at the upper right corner of the kepala — one of the major pre-war batik-makers in Pekalongan (died 1940, van Hout, Batik: Drawn in Wax, Royal Tropical Institute, 2001, 191). A beautiful and impressive batik for its unusual color composition, precise drawing, and very fine condition.
Excellent condition, with no holes, stains, or tears. The cotton is very fine, fresh, with a firm body and crisp texture, and the colors are vivid and glowing.
42" x 39" (stitched/unopened, 78" " if opened).