Go Tik Swan: Google doodle to honor humanist & poet on his 90th birthday
Happy birthday, Go Tik Swan!
Today's doodle celebrates Indonesian artist humanist and poet Go Tik Swan (also known as Panembahan Hardjonagoro) on his 90th birthday. He is a contemporary master of the ancient art form of designing fabric with hot wax known as batik.
Go Tik Swan was born on this day in 1931 in Solo, Central Java, Indonesia. He was born as the eldest son of a Chinese family belonging to the Upper Branch or Chinese priyayi in the city of Solo ( Surakarta ).
Go Tik Swan was raised by his maternal grandfather, Tjan Khay Sing , a batik entrepreneur in Solo. He has four batik shops: two in Kratonan, one in Ngapenan, and another in Kestalan, with about 1,000 employees.
Since he was a child, Tik Swan used to play among the stampers, with the children who cleaned the wax from the cloth and washed it, those who put brown color on the bark of the soga tree, and the people who wrote the cloth with canting.
He also enjoyed listening to them sing and tell stories about Dewi Sri and various traditional Javanese stories. From them, he learned to know mocopat, puppetry, gending, Hanacaraka, and Javanese dances.
Fascinated by his ancestry, Swan further explored his heritage by studying Javanese literature and dance at the University of Indonesia.
Go Tik Swan was sent to school at the Neutrale Europesche Lagere School with members of the palace, noble children, children of community leaders, and children of Dutch officials. This was because both of his parents were descendants of the Chinese community leaders at that time.
His father is the grandson of Luitenant der Chinezen in Boyolali while his mother is the grandson of Luitenant der Chinezen from Surakarta.
In an event of his college dance performances that Indonesia's president caught wind of Swan's family background in batik manufacturing and commissioned him to create a new batik style; one that he believed could transcend division and unite the Indonesian people. In the 1950s, Swan fulfilled the president's request by combining regional batik techniques to introduce "Batik Indonesia."
Swan held such high reverence for his craft that he considered each piece of batik to carry philosophical meaning, even developing a motif in the 70s entitled Kembang Bangah ("Rotten Flowers'') as a love letter to his national identity.
An expert in Javanese culture, he was also a master of a kris (an ancient Javanese ceremonial dagger tradition) and a skilled player of gamelan (a popular orchestral form of traditional Indonesian music). He gave back so much to his heritage, the Surakarta government honored him with the noble title of Panembahan Hardjonegoro.