By Tiziano Terzani

“An totally fascinating and fascinating go back and forth publication that gives bright images of bizarre corners of Asia, instructed by means of a talented raconteur whose eyes have been open wide.” —Los Angeles instances publication Review

Warned via a Hong Kong fortune-teller to not possibility flying for a complete yr, Tiziano Terzani—a drastically skilled Asia correspondent—took what he known as “the first step into an unknown international. . . . It became out to be some of the most striking years i've got ever spent: i used to be marked for dying, and as an alternative i used to be reborn.”

Traveling by means of foot, boat, bus, vehicle, and educate, he visited Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, China, Mongolia, Japan, Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia. Geography increased below his toes. He consulted soothsayers, sorcerers, and shamans and got a lot advice—some clever, a few otherwise—about his destiny. With time to imagine, he realized to appreciate, appreciate, and worry for older methods of existence and ideology now threatened by way of the crasser sorts of Western modernity. He rediscovered a spot he were reporting on for many years. And reinvigorated himself within the procedure.

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Javanese village life is still much the same, more than a century later. (Left) Chinese musician plays a popular instrument called the Kong-a-Hian. (Above) 41 There were interruptions along the way, most notably the worldwide depression that began in 1929. Already threatened by cheap Japanese imports, Java's textile markets shriveled, and many men and women trudged from town to town in desperate search of employment. The economic dislocation was long and severe, resulting in the permanent loss of many local batik styles and specialties.

Undaunted, Raffles began a second collection, which he brought back safely to England. Raffles may well have collected batik by the gross— he wrote that there were a hundred identifiable patterns —and his History of Java includes the first systematic study of the art. Only two of Raffles's Javanese pieces survive, and they seem to be the earliest in any collection. Illustrations in the Raffles History show numerous ways of wearing batik, along with many different patterns. He also wrote in detail about how batik is made.

Raffles was appointed lieutenant governor of the island and forthwith set out to learn everything he could about his new surroundings. He abolished forced and "contingent" deliveries, upon which both the Dutch and Javanese had based their economy. Shocked that a country like Holland, which valued political liberty, would tolerate thirty thousand slaves in Java, Raffles set about eradicating slavery. Not content with such far-reaching economic and social changes, Raffles steeped himself in the local cul- Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, the remarkable man whose monumental History of Java is still important to our knowledge of batik.

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