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PostPosted: Mon Apr 24, 2017 8:48 pm 
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Hello,

Among my Borneo textiles, I have three where I"m not sure as to what technique has been used.
I know that with sungkit the pattern should be almost the same on both sides and with pilih the pattern on the back is the like a negative of the front side. But I'm enclosing photos of three Kain Kebat where, as far as I can see, neither one nor the other applies.
Can anyone explain what is the technique applied in each of these three pieces?
Thanks,
Christophe


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Borneo C.JPG
Borneo C.JPG [ 152.75 KiB | Viewed 798 times ]
Borneo B.JPG
Borneo B.JPG [ 146.06 KiB | Viewed 798 times ]
Borneo A.JPG
Borneo A.JPG [ 172.7 KiB | Viewed 798 times ]
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2017 4:48 am 
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Hello, Hard to be sure without better, close-up photos but the 1st and last photos look like sungkit and the center one looks like pilih.

Best regards


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2017 7:24 am 
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Hello Mac,

thank you very much for your comment.
This is what I was tempted to think: that the first and third are sungkits but I was confused because on the reverse there is a mess (and a mesh) of threads distorting the view of the pattern, while I have other sungkit cloths where the pattern on both sides is razor blade sharp. Could it be that in these two cases the weavers were not very skilled?
And then, similar applies to No 2: if it is indeed a pilih, than the pattern on the reverse is pretty much obscured. And the background which is red on the front, becomes black on the reverse.
I can send you high resolution photos by email, because here I am limited to 500K.

Best regards,
Christophe


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2017 8:49 am 
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Hello, I would guess that the sungkit pieces are not so old and the weavers didn't bother to trim the threads on the back as they would not be seen when the skirt was worn. I think in pilih you have a white base weave and red and black supplementary weft threads which float on the surface when needed or on the back when not part of the face motif. Your description sounds like what pilih should look like to me. More than high resolution what is needed is close-up photos showing the threads clearly. I think you have it right.

Best regards


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 27, 2017 8:23 pm 
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Thanks very much, MAC, for your input.

I am completely swamped and drowning this end and I very cheekily asked for help from someone who has researched in Borneo, particularly amongst the Iban, and has written about them. I never cease to be amazed by the depth and breadth of his knowledge. He is reticent about appearing on the forum but happy to help us. He agrees with MAC about top and bottom skirts being sungkit and the middle one being pilih.

He gave me some helpful comments about the relevant weaving techniques:
Quote:
"Sungkit is a weft wrapping supplementary technique in which the supplementary wefts are wrapped around the warp and then knotted very finely. The weft locks wraps and knots into place. The knots after a sequence cannot be repeated any further are cut finely with a sharp knife. In the Batang Ai in Sarawak and in Kalimantan Barat some weavers stopped cutting the ends of supplementary wefts starting probably in the 1960s for skirts because they could not be seen. It only rarely was done with pua' sungkit. The Bhutanese did much the same with their cloths. My efficiency principle coming into action.

Pilih is another supplementary embroidery [in the sense of adding threads, not using a needle to sew] method using a continuous weft in which additional weft shuttles float in front of and behind the warp to indicate the design. Often with the Iban the supplementary wefts are paired red and black strips which is what your correspondent is thinking about when he talks about a mirror image."

He also drew my attention to a forum thread started by John Kreifeldt back in 2004 with some comments from Georges Breguet when John was thinking about writing an article on pilih. There are some good photos including close-ups. See: viewtopic.php?t=2265

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 27, 2017 8:49 pm 
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I have just gone through some photos I took of a sungkit cloth (not a skirt) in the British Museum's collection. I know I took both front and reverse. All the photos now look so similar I can't tell the difference! I post one close-up image here where I folded over a side of the cloth to try and show both front and reverse at once. You can see how similar they are and certainly no uncut ends. I think that the small part of the cloth showing underneath to the right of the photo must be the front and the larger layer of textile must be the reverse. The cloth was woven before 1851 as that was when it was originally donated to Kew (and later passed onto the British Museum).


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 29, 2017 7:59 pm 
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Dear Pamela,

the contribution of your friend is invaluable! And the discussion between John and Georges from 2004 is extremely informative as well.
Thanks a lot for both!
So, now the matter has been cleared: the two pieces are indeed sungkit and one is a pilih.
Just one more question to MAC: any idea where they may be coming from?


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PostPosted: Mon May 01, 2017 7:33 am 
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Dear Christophe

Very difficult to tell from your photos especially as the front of the skirt cloth is partly covered by the reverse.

Once again I have asked advice from my reticent Borneo researcher. Although difficult to be certain he has suggested that you go to a map of Borneo and Sarawak and find Engkilili in Sarawak, and look across the border in Kalimantan Barat among the Iban on the other side of that range. The skirts might possibly be from that area which stretches up to Badau. [Finding a decent enough map of Borneo may be a problem. My best one is currently 'hiding' in my bookshelves but on another I can get as far as Engkilili and 'look' across the border into Kalimantan but there the names are missing.]

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PostPosted: Mon May 01, 2017 4:09 pm 
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Dear Pamela,

Thank you very much for your help but you are right: I have forgotten that I didn't even post photos of the entire skirts and I expect that someone will be albÄ™ to recognize them.
I'm sorry for this and I will post full photos but it will be end of the months when I get back home. Till then, I will be in NTT.
But, of course, I will try to work with maps - I think I have four, each showing different names of places, so perhaps one will list Engkilili.
Thanks a lot again and I will be back end of May with all this.

Best regards,
Christophe


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PostPosted: Mon May 22, 2017 3:34 pm 
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I need hardly add anything to the always excellent information from Mac, Pam and the anonymous informant but in case it was not mentioned and/or I did not notice it, pilih need not be a "negative" on the "reverse" side. It depends on the design. I have a number of pilih in which the reverse is just an unrecognizable jumble.

I have also seen several sungkits with hanging threads on what would be an inside (skirt, jacket). It is a lot of extra work to hide the loose end.

John

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 04, 2017 9:39 am 
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Hello John,

thank you very much for your contribution!
Your comment sums it all up and fully answers my questions.
My conviction had been that the reverse of a pilih had to be a clear negative version of the front side. And the same for sungkit: I thought that the reverse had to be almost exactly the same as the from panel. And indeed I have in my collection examples of both such cloths. But now I understand that sometimes they are not so perfectly executed and a mess on the reverse is indeed acceptable.

Best regards,

Christophe


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