Seminar: Representations of the Ottomans in Javanese Reverse Glass Painting


Arts in Southeast Asia Seminar Series


About the Seminar


Indonesian reverse painting on glass is seldom studied because it is considered to be one of Java’s ‘minor’ arts. Produced mainly by Javanese painters for urban and rural Javanese, it was also much appreciated by Chinese and Arabs communities. While European or Chinese artists probably introduced reverse glass painting to Java in the late 19th century, its golden age was between the 1930s and the 1960s. An expression of mixed modernity, combining Javanese, European and Islamic features, the themes ranged from so-called ‘traditional’ Javanese wayang figures and mosques to new technologies and modern lifestyle in the Dutch Indies.

In the first part of this talk, I will present the main features of Javanese reverse glass painting such as technical aspects, themes of representation, and production issues. I will then focus on one of the trends from the early 1900s: the representations of the Ottomans (or Turkey). These representations show the emergence of a clear narrative linking the Ottomans with an idea of political and religious modernity at the turn of the 20th century amongst the local population in the Dutch Netherland Indies. This theme will also allow me to demonstrate the swift circulation of iconographic models throughout the Muslim world, from Istanbul to Java, through the Holy Land and Singapore.

About the Speaker

Professor Jérôme Samuel is a sociolinguist and historian specialising on Indonesia. He is the co-director of French National Research Center’s laboratory Center for Southeast Asian Studies (CASE) and lectures in Paris’ INALCO on Malay and Indonesian language and civilisations since 2002. He published widely on politics of linguistic and terminology history and authored a seminal book on teaching Indonesian language for a French public published in 2012 (second volume forthcoming). He has been working on reverse glass painting for 10 years and has published several articles on this subject, in Journal Archipel, and is currently working on a book. He was awarded a PhD from INALCO in 2000 and obtained a full professorship in 2015.


To register, please fill in this form and email to by Thursday, 3 November 2016.



Nov 04 2016


3:00 pm - 4:30 pm


ISEAS Seminar Room 2