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tribaltextiles.info • View topic - Pua Kumbu: Sacred Blankets of the Saribas Iban

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 27, 2009 7:32 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jul 27, 2009 6:05 pm
Posts: 132
Location: Kuching, Malaysia
Hello

I'm new here. Allow me to introduce myself. I'm Vernon and I am not an academic or a collector. I am just the great-grandson of an Iban masterweaver. My family has an heirloom collection of woven blankets called pua kumbu.

The Iban are a tribal people found in Borneo. We're also known as Dayak. Our women weave ikat textiles on the backstrap tension loom. Our biggest cloths are the pua kumbu, roughly translated as blankets; though we do not actually use them as such. They're more ceremonial sacred cloths used in ceremony and for ritual purposes in creating and delineating sacred spaces.

I come from the Saribas, a river basin in Sarawak, a state in Malaysia situated on the island of Borneo. I now live and work in the capital, Kuala Lumpur. My free time is devoted to researching and cataloguing and documenting my family's collection as well as the pieces I have acquired over the years.

is my personal blog where I have started writing as much as I can about my cloths in the hope that the knowledge passed down from my foremothers do not die with me and will be read by future generations of my family. Much of it is esoteric. To read my documentations, click

Here are some photographs of my family's heirloom pua kumbu. These are all pieces woven by great-grandma Sendi anak Ketit, whom we fondly remember as Indai Gumbek (Gumbek's mother). Gumbek was my grandmother's nick name, and it is customary in the Iban culture to address someone married not directly by their name but to refer to them by their child's name. Hence, Sendi was known as Indai Gumbek to her contemporaries.

I hope to make new friends here and to share my legacy with you. I'd love to hear from you.

Vernon


Attachments:
File comment: Close up of the main body of Indai Gumbek's earliest work.
ENAM.JPG
ENAM.JPG [ 117.26 KiB | Viewed 60292 times ]
File comment: Close up of the main body of an early work.
SELAPAN.JPG
SELAPAN.JPG [ 108.02 KiB | Viewed 60292 times ]
File comment: The Bali Bugau Kantu, my favourite :-)
UBONG MANSAU SERATUS SEMILAN.JPG
UBONG MANSAU SERATUS SEMILAN.JPG [ 71.73 KiB | Viewed 60292 times ]
File comment: Indai Gumbek's masterpiece: The Trees of the Afterlife.
PUA WO.JPG
PUA WO.JPG [ 158.28 KiB | Viewed 60292 times ]
File comment: Indai Gumbek is seated second from the left. This photograph was taken in Singapore just before the 2nd world war. Seated far right is my grandmother Inja (Gumbek) holding my two-year old father!
THE FAMILY.JPG
THE FAMILY.JPG [ 83.14 KiB | Viewed 60292 times ]


Last edited by vernonkeditjolly on Thu Jul 30, 2009 7:35 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 27, 2009 8:15 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jul 27, 2009 6:05 pm
Posts: 132
Location: Kuching, Malaysia
I attach more pics of the Bali Bugau Kantu and close-ups.

For more information on this piece, please click

I suggest the following as essential background reading,


Attachments:
File comment: End accompaniment depicting anthropomorphic figures called Gajah Meram which translates as Brooding Elephants. The word 'elephant' is used not to denote the animal (as the figure hardly resembles an elephant) but more the 'enormity' of the figure.
punggang pun.JPG
punggang pun.JPG [ 175.94 KiB | Viewed 60289 times ]
File comment: The main pattern.
isi.JPG
isi.JPG [ 141.75 KiB | Viewed 60289 times ]
File comment: Indai Gumbek stitched the numeric 4 on some of her pua kumbu to denote ownership. The number 4 refers to Door Four of Stambak Ulu longhouse, her address.
punggang ujong.JPG
punggang ujong.JPG [ 195.48 KiB | Viewed 60289 times ]
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 27, 2009 9:27 pm 
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Posts: 132
Location: Kuching, Malaysia
This is one of my favourite pieces, acquired about fifteen years ago. The main pattern is organic and fluid, flanked by thin side borders and narrow selvedges of commercial yarn. The end accompaniments are unassuming but typically regal. A majestic and terrifying cloth.

Woven in the Old Period, possible 1900s. Provenance Layar, Saribas. Weaver unknown.


Attachments:
File comment: Typical pua kumbu of the Saribas Iban.
Old (Great Krakatoa Eruption 1883 to turn of the 20th Century).JPG
Old (Great Krakatoa Eruption 1883 to turn of the 20th Century).JPG [ 83.38 KiB | Viewed 60280 times ]
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 27, 2009 9:34 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jul 27, 2009 6:05 pm
Posts: 132
Location: Kuching, Malaysia
An elegant and regal pattern of the ritual poles used during the prestigious Bird Festival celebrated by Iban war leaders. Well balanced cloth flanked by narrow strips of chequered blocks and a white outermost selvedge, the mark of a masterweaver. Dramatic end accompaniments.

From the Classical Period. Provenance Layar, Saribas.


Attachments:
File comment: The Ritual Poles pattern.
Ritual Poles.JPG
Ritual Poles.JPG [ 83.24 KiB | Viewed 60279 times ]
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 27, 2009 9:55 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jul 27, 2009 6:05 pm
Posts: 132
Location: Kuching, Malaysia
The Bali Belumpong, or Pattern of Logs. There are no actual logs in the pattern, but the clearly delineated blocks of compartments are referred to in Iban as 'logs'. Not a masterpiece but definitley a dramatic and visually engaging piece.

Spirit figures with engorged genitalia dance triumphantly over decapitated corpses - a stunning and visual allegory of head-taking.

In the compartment above, 'seeds' are hung in rattan enclosures - imagery for trophy heads taken in war. The empty space in the middle is a ritual space where the spirit of the cloth has been captured and imprisoned by the weaver.

I love this piece!

The colour is chocolate brown, indicative of the use of the engkerebai dye instead of the usual engkudu or morinda citrifolia.

From the Classical Period. Provenance Paku, Saribas.


Attachments:
File comment: The Bali Belumpong
bali belumpong.JPG
bali belumpong.JPG [ 67.65 KiB | Viewed 60270 times ]
File comment: Spirit figures dance triumphantly over decapitated corpses - a stunning and visual allegory of head-taking.
detail.JPG
detail.JPG [ 146.52 KiB | Viewed 60270 times ]


Last edited by vernonkeditjolly on Mon Jul 27, 2009 11:10 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 27, 2009 9:57 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jun 29, 2003 1:42 pm
Posts: 2001
Location: Canterbury, UK
Vernon

Welcome to the forum! Thank you so very much for sharing these photos of stunning pua woven by your great grandmother (and the very evocative family photo).

I very strongly support your efforts to document your family heritage - and what a wonderful heritage it is!

I was interested to read on your blog your discussion of the two pua in the British Museum which came from the first Rajah and second Ranee of Sarawak (as I live in the UK). Lots more fascinating material on your blog which I have looked through briefly - and clearly must return to. So many photos of fine pua and your writing with them is informative and, in places, very gripping.

I am so glad that you found the forum. I hope that you will share more of knowledge of your Iban culture and, in particular, of the textile traditions of your heritage.

I used to visit Malaysia two or three times a year for the University of Kent before I retired in 2006 and was fortunate to visit Sarawak two or three times although my visits were limited to Kuching. I have one pua hanging in my hallway and several of what used to be called bidang in my collection from these visits.

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Pamela

http://www.tribaltextiles.info
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 27, 2009 10:13 pm 
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 27, 2009 10:26 pm 
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Vernon

Many thanks for the helpful explanation re bidang and kain kebat.

I have had hunt through old threads on the forum and found this one http://www.tribaltextiles.info/communit ... .php?t=154 which has a photo of my pua and some kain kebat.

If you go back through the forum - perhaps search for Iban or pua you should find quite a few textiles especially those from forum member John who is a keen collector.

Of course I will be gentle with you - that is the way that I like people to be treated on the forum so that members are encouraged to share their knowledge with us all.

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http://www.tribaltextiles.info
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 27, 2009 10:56 pm 
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Location: Kuching, Malaysia


Attachments:
File comment: The fireflies
fireflies.jpg
fireflies.jpg [ 9.38 KiB | Viewed 60265 times ]
File comment: Pamela's Pua Berinjan Selempepat
iban_pua01.jpg
iban_pua01.jpg [ 113.73 KiB | Viewed 60265 times ]
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 27, 2009 11:11 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jun 29, 2003 1:42 pm
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Vernon

Thank you so very much for the fascinating information and background to my pua. I have always been very attracted to it but your information has really made it come alive. I will print off your post and study it carefully against the textile.

I have had a look at the yellow edging. Difficult to tell especially at night. I will have another look in the day time - although the pua is hung away from windows and bright lights. It looks quite a soft yellow to me and not a particularly bright aniline yellow (I have checked both sides of the textile in case it has faded but both seem similar) nor a 'rich saffron'.

Thank you so very much for sharing your 'reading' of my pua!

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Pamela

http://www.tribaltextiles.info
on-line tribal textiles resource


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jul 27, 2009 11:19 pm 
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 Post subject: Iban and
PostPosted: Tue Jul 28, 2009 3:23 am 
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 Post subject: Re: Iban and
PostPosted: Tue Jul 28, 2009 5:30 am 
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 Post subject: Iban Textiles
PostPosted: Tue Jul 28, 2009 7:06 am 
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 Post subject: Re: Iban Textiles
PostPosted: Tue Jul 28, 2009 7:36 am 
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