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 Post subject: Pua Kumbu
PostPosted: Tue Jul 28, 2009 11:43 pm 
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Joined: Sat May 09, 2009 1:01 am
Posts: 246
Location: Japan
Vernon, Welcome to the forum and congratulations! Your heritage, knowledge and textiles are precious jewels which you have graciously decided to share with humanity! We are all grateful. I am a textile collector and have a number of Iban textiles which I collected way up the Balle river in Sarawak, in Kuching, Singapore, Jakarta, Bali and even a number of pieces that I bought from Traude Gavin when she was in Tokyo in the early 80's. The information you have posted is most interesting and informative! Thank you so much! Straight from the horse's mouth as we say back home on the farm! What could be better! I have an endless number of questions that I would love to ask you. All of the textiles you have posted are pua. Were there no male textiles, loincloths or jackets, or kain kebat among your textile heritage? I am very interested in dating the availabilty and spread of chemical dyes. Would you or anyone else out there have any info. about when chemical dyes or chemically dyed mill threads became available to the Iban or any other ethnic groups in Asia? Some of your pua have yellow, green and black border stripes. Are these colors chemical? Are they mill thread or handspun? When was Indai Gumbek's earliest piece produced? What does Bali, in your favorite piece, Bali Bugau Kantu mean? I wonder when the Iban first came to live in Sarawak? In your profile you list some 21 generations which would amount to about 400 years! Quite an impressive genealogy! Most of us probably can't go back more than 4 or 5 generations. Lastly, I hope you will forgive me if I ask a personal question. Please disregard it and accept my apologies if I am being too curious. I wonder how and when your family came to migrate to Singapore and the suits and ties and batik sarongs and kabayas of your family photo. Thanks again for shareing your wonderful textiles and info. I hope you don't mind my many questions. Best regards, MAC


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 Post subject: Re: Pua Kumbu
PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2009 6:30 am 
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Joined: Mon Jul 27, 2009 6:05 pm
Posts: 128
Location: Kuching, Malaysia
Quote:
Vernon, Welcome to the forum and congratulations! Your heritage, knowledge and textiles are precious jewels which you have graciously decided to share with humanity! We are all grateful. I am a textile collector and have a number of Iban textiles which I collected way up the Balle river in Sarawak, in Kuching, Singapore, Jakarta, Bali and even a number of pieces that I bought from Traude Gavin when she was in Tokyo in the early 80's. The information you have posted is most interesting and informative! Thank you so much! Straight from the horse's mouth as we say back home on the farm! What could be better! I have an endless number of questions that I would love to ask you. All of the textiles you have posted are pua. Were there no male textiles, loincloths or jackets, or kain kebat among your textile heritage? I am very interested in dating the availabilty and spread of chemical dyes. Would you or anyone else out there have any info. about when chemical dyes or chemically dyed mill threads became available to the Iban or any other ethnic groups in Asia? Some of your pua have yellow, green and black border stripes. Are these colors chemical? Are they mill thread or handspun? When was Indai Gumbek's earliest piece produced? What does Bali, in your favorite piece, Bali Bugau Kantu mean? I wonder when the Iban first came to live in Sarawak? In your profile you list some 21 generations which would amount to about 400 years! Quite an impressive genealogy! Most of us probably can't go back more than 4 or 5 generations. Lastly, I hope you will forgive me if I ask a personal question. Please disregard it and accept my apologies if I am being too curious. I wonder how and when your family came to migrate to Singapore and the suits and ties and batik sarongs and kabayas of your family photo. Thanks again for shareing your wonderful textiles and info. I hope you don't mind my many questions. Best regards, MAC

Hello Mac

I shall endaevour to respond to all your queries as best possible. :wink:

I have an endless number of questions that I would love to ask you. All of the textiles you have posted are pua. Were there no male textiles, loincloths or jackets, or kain kebat among your textile heritage?

The textiles I've posted so far in this forum and at my blog represent a fraction of our heirloom. I live in Kuala Lumpur and the pieces I have with me are my favourite pieces. The vast majority are back home in the family vault in Kuching. I shall be flying back on Thursday for work. I might be able to squeeze in a couple of hours to photograph more pieces to post here and at the blog.


I am very interested in dating the availabilty and spread of chemical dyes. Would you or anyone else out there have any info. about when chemical dyes or chemically dyed mill threads became available to the Iban or any other ethnic groups in Asia? Some of your pua have yellow, green and black border stripes. Are these colors chemical? Are they mill thread or handspun?

Commercial threads (mill spun and chemical colours) were available to us in the mid 1800s, maybe earlier. I can't give you an exact date but I do know that Indai Gumbek's earliest pieces were made of commercial yarns. These became available with the onset of trading with the chinese boat traders who brought with them indian and chinese yarns.


When was Indai Gumbek's earliest piece produced?

The Great Krakatoa Eruption of 1883 has become a device by which Iban fix dates. Like in the western calendar you have BC and AD. We have pre eruption and post eruption. The eruption and its devastating effects were felt even in the Saribas. According to family stories, on the day of the eruption when the earth shook and the skies turned black, Sendi (Indai Gumbek) and her mother Mengan scooped up their textiles and ran down the stairs to the safety of the jungle. They left everything behind except their textiles. Several hours later when it seemed safe to return home, both mother and daughter and the rest of the family and their retinue and slaves returned to the longhouse. In that story, we are specifically told that Sendi and her mother "scooped up their textiles". Therefore, I would hazard a guess that Sendi was already weaving before 1883. Which places her earliest textiles well in the Ancient Period.


What does Bali, in your favorite piece, Bali Bugau Kantu mean?

Bali is an honorific prefix, much like Sir or Lord. Which suggests that a pua kumbu is an entity, much like a person? Absolutely. :wink: Some commentators have suggested that the word Bali refers to another Iban word Bali' which means "to change" or "to transform". I have investigated this premise and found myself laughed at by my grandaunts. Bali is pronounced ba-lee while Bali' is pronounced ba-leeq and both mean absolutely different things. And definitely no reference whatsoever to the Indonesian Island we all love to holiday at.


I wonder when the Iban first came to live in Sarawak?

Iban migration is well documented. Google could help you there.


In your profile you list some 21 generations which would amount to about 400 years! Quite an impressive genealogy! Most of us probably can't go back more than 4 or 5 generations.

Saribas Iban take their bloodlines very seriously. And right up to my great-grandfather's generation, genealogies were remembered and passed down orally. My grandfather's generation started writing them down. Taking each generation to be about 25 years, and multiplying that by 25 generations, I guess I can trace my forebears back to the 1300s!


Lastly, I hope you will forgive me if I ask a personal question. Please disregard it and accept my apologies if I am being too curious. I wonder how and when your family came to migrate to Singapore and the suits and ties and batik sarongs and kabayas of your family photo.

When granddad married grandma, he brought her to Singapore where granddad worked in the British Civil Service until he retired just after the war. It was rare in those days for Iban to be educated and so those that were had a head start in job opportunities. Plus, every Iban of means would go on bejalai ('walkabout') to attain 'fame and fortune', as it were. My uncle, Dr. Peter Mulok Kedit, wrote his master's thesis on bejalai (which is available on the internet, I think.) All my aunts and uncle were born in Singapore. Dad was Singaporean up until he married mom and returned to Malaysia and became a Malaysian citizen. The suits and ties and sarongs were the de rigeur fashion for the day. Well, for most leading Saribas families, anyway. It's like how Paris Hilton would wear the latest Gucci and Prada today. Ceremonial loincloths and kain kebat were reserved for festivities when traditional costumes were the mode. On normal days, we went about our business in normal clothes; trousers and shirts and sarongs for the ladies. But I am being quite subjective as the Iban of the Saribas were the first Iban to materially afford western luxuries back in their day. Iban in other regions were still going about their business in simple loincloths and kain kebat.


Mac, my answers are quick answers. An academic would expect me to justify everything I say. Which I haven't. Maybe when I write a book, I'll have more time to do that. For now, you'll just have to take it from the horse's mouth, I guess. :wink:

Vernon


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2009 7:10 am 
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Joined: Mon Jul 27, 2009 6:05 pm
Posts: 128
Location: Kuching, Malaysia
Mac

Hang on, I do have one piece with me in KL. An old skirt.

Enjoy.


Attachments:
File comment: kain kebat
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File comment: Close up
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File comment: detail of kain kebat selvedge
DSC03256.JPG
DSC03256.JPG [ 162.67 KiB | Viewed 18368 times ]
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2009 7:15 am 
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Joined: Mon Jul 27, 2009 6:05 pm
Posts: 128
Location: Kuching, Malaysia
Mac

I attach a link to an entry in my blog of another kain kebat which I gave to a friend.

http://vernonkeditjolly.blogspot.com/2009/06/virgins-petticoat.html


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2009 7:32 am 
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Joined: Mon Jul 27, 2009 6:05 pm
Posts: 128
Location: Kuching, Malaysia
Mac

Just in case you have plenty of time on your hands, here's further reading about the people in the Singapore photograph.

http://vernonkeditjolly.blogspot.com/2009/07/julia-indai-nan.html


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2009 9:35 am 
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Joined: Mon Jul 27, 2009 6:05 pm
Posts: 128
Location: Kuching, Malaysia
Hi Mac

Have a look at this link. It's a page from Land and Longhouse by Rob A. Cramb, and the three people mentioned in the paragraph, Gergasi (Budin Gerasi), Penghulu Kedit (after whom my grandfather was named and by which we have taken as our family surname) and Penghulu Saang (after whom my father is named) are my direct ancestors. It gives you an idea of how the Saribas Iban were the first Iban to travel to Singapore.

Budin Gerasi was my grandmother's great-grandfather (and Indai Gumbek's grandfather) and Penghulu Saang was my grandfather's grandfather.

Click the link for Google books

I attach a print-out for easy reference.


Attachments:
File comment: The three houses of the Saribas.
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Untitled1.jpg
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2009 6:27 pm 
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Sorry that I did not get back on Vernon's question of handspun or not handspun thread in my pua yesterday. I am afraid that I had some problems with my internet connection.

I have taken detail photos of the weaving both to show evenness or not and also a couple of the yellow in the outermost warp stripes as Vernon asked me about this earlier. Sorry if the number of pics is over the top for most people but I felt that Vernon would appreciate them. To me it looks as if the warp threads are not handspun, they seem very even, but the hidden weft threads are much more uneven and might be handspun.

All photos are shown with the warp threads running from top to bottom.


Attachments:
File comment: detail of weaving towards edge
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File comment: detail of centre of weaving
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File comment: detail of centre of weaving
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File comment: detail of outer warp stripes
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File comment: detail of outer warp stripes
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http://www.tribaltextiles.info
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2009 7:23 pm 
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Posts: 175
Location: east coast
Dear Vernon - what an absolute trove of treasures you are revealing! And that includes what I hope will eventually be a wider network of collectors of these incredible textiles. I have often wished there were some society or organization devoted to Borneo weavings as there are for Oriental Rugs and such. I know there must be a number of us collectors but I find it frustrating to locate them. I am hoping most deeply that your presence on the forum will fulfill such a hope so we can share these treasures at least in pictures and learn more about them.

Your heirloom pua , especially Sendi's strike deeply into my heart with their beauty and immense power. I felt these emotions when I first saw the weavings in Edric Ong's book during a sabbatical in Kuching. No other textiles among all the world's beautiful ones I have seen raise these same emotions in me although I collect a few other textiles of other cultures for their beauty.

I am afraid that you will now be bombarded with questions that I and other collectors have been wanting to ask someone who has close to firsthand knowledge. I hope we are not adding to your workload.

One of my questions popped up based on your pua Bali Bugau Kantu. What is the significance of the word "Kantu" in an Iban piece as I also collect pua from the Kantu or Kantu' (?) and other Kalimantan Ibanic groups.

Because you express an interest is seeing pua from other collectors, I post several here for your comments if you are so kind. I may have posted these elsewhere on the Forum site but this will save work for you I hope. The sepapat is also pictured in figure 47 page 119 in Gavin's Iban Ritual Textiles and was at one time in Beverly Birks Collection. I purchased it from Kent Watters several years ago.

I also post a "ritual pole pattern" becaue of your comments about that pattern. Published in Gavin's, "The women's warpath" (plate 97). I also purchased this from Kent Waters several years ago.

Finally at this time, I post a piece which I think is a "vine pattern"?. I wish the photo could do justice, It is an extremely rich deep red with very deep blacks. You feel like you could dive into the black. One of my favorites. I purchased it from a very excellent dealer in Kuching.

Naturally, the pictures are in reverse order to my mentions of them.

I have tried to keep to the forum requirements of less than 80K per picture so the details are not too well captured. I can post closeups if that helps.

I have a faily large collecton off pua and skirts from different Ibans (Saribas, Baleh, etc.) and Kalimantan Ibanic groups so I will not burden you with more unless you are interested. And if the Forum does not lose patience.

Vernon - again, I can not express well enough my pleasure at your joining the forum and providing links to your other offerings. I will devour them.

Thanks so much and keep posting!

-John


Attachments:
File comment: Vine pattern (?). 84" x 42". Handspun.
iban pua 97.jpg
iban pua 97.jpg [ 73.93 KiB | Viewed 18312 times ]
File comment: ritual pole pattern. 87" x 42". 120 warp theads/inch, 21 weft threads/inch. hanspun and commercial threads, native and aniline dyes.
pua ritual pole pattern.jpg
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File comment: A Sepapat pattern. 88" x 40". 136 warp threads/inch, 20 weft threads/inch. Very fine work and excellent detail work.

Handapun and what look like natural dyes.

iban pua 37 reduced.jpg
iban pua 37 reduced.jpg [ 82.17 KiB | Viewed 18312 times ]

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2009 5:55 pm 
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Posts: 128
Location: Kuching, Malaysia
Pamela wrote:
Sorry that I did not get back on Vernon's question of handspun or not handspun thread in my pua yesterday. I am afraid that I had some problems with my internet connection.

I have taken detail photos of the weaving both to show evenness or not and also a couple of the yellow in the outermost warp stripes as Vernon asked me about this earlier. Sorry if the number of pics is over the top for most people but I felt that Vernon would appreciate them. To me it looks as if the warp threads are not handspun, they seem very even, but the hidden weft threads are much more uneven and might be handspun.

All photos are shown with the warp threads running from top to bottom.



Hello Pamela

Your pua kumbu is most likely, from what I can tell of the detail photos you attach, of very fine handspun threads. Oh yes, such extremely fine threads were handspun by the Iban. Laborious, meticulous and almost improbable to the western eye and mind but believe me, I have seen very fine handspun threads before. The inconsistency is evident in the way the warp threads 'bundle up' over the double weft.

And because it is handspun, I would like to think it's much older than what I had previously thought. Which agrees with the pattern of the berinjan selempepat on your pua kumbu which is quite original; a very raw and almost primal pattern of this very well-known design. I have never seen this variant before. Could yours be one of the original 'prototypes' of the berinjan selempepat?

The yellow seems vegetable dye by its inconsistency BUT it's just too bright not to be aniline. Again, I have not seen such bright canary yellow on such an old cloth. How did she get it? Where did she get it? Or did she brew it herself? I am most perplexed. Suggestions, anyone?

The use of yellow on the outermost selvedge is a prestige indicator; a device by which the weaver is publicly celebrating her mastery of the dyeing process. And yet the use of kelemebai bands at both ends seems to indicate that she has yet to achieve tembu kayu (completion of the weaving cycle). So how can she progress to the yellow before even accomplishing the white? This is a Saribas blanket, by all indications of style and workmanship. And Saribas weavers were governed by very rigid rules. So why two kelemebai with the stunning yellow? And what a yellow!

Let me say again I simply love the deep burgundy of the background. So rich. So supreme.

Pamela, you have an ancient blanket that is quite an enigma. Fascinating!

Vernon


Last edited by vernonkeditjolly on Thu Jul 30, 2009 7:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2009 6:54 pm 
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Location: Kuching, Malaysia
-double post-


Last edited by vernonkeditjolly on Thu Jul 30, 2009 7:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2009 6:55 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jul 27, 2009 6:05 pm
Posts: 128
Location: Kuching, Malaysia
john wrote:
Dear Vernon - what an absolute trove of treasures you are revealing! And that includes what I hope will eventually be a wider network of collectors of these incredible textiles. I have often wished there were some society or organization devoted to Borneo weavings as there are for Oriental Rugs and such. I know there must be a number of us collectors but I find it frustrating to locate them. I am hoping most deeply that your presence on the forum will fulfill such a hope so we can share these treasures at least in pictures and learn more about them.

Your heirloom pua , especially Sendi's strike deeply into my heart with their beauty and immense power. I felt these emotions when I first saw the weavings in Edric Ong's book during a sabbatical in Kuching. No other textiles among all the world's beautiful ones I have seen raise these same emotions in me although I collect a few other textiles of other cultures for their beauty.

I am afraid that you will now be bombarded with questions that I and other collectors have been wanting to ask someone who has close to firsthand knowledge. I hope we are not adding to your workload.

One of my questions popped up based on your pua Bali Bugau Kantu. What is the significance of the word "Kantu" in an Iban piece as I also collect pua from the Kantu or Kantu' (?) and other Kalimantan Ibanic groups.

Because you express an interest is seeing pua from other collectors, I post several here for your comments if you are so kind. I may have posted these elsewhere on the Forum site but this will save work for you I hope. The sepapat is also pictured in figure 47 page 119 in Gavin's Iban Ritual Textiles and was at one time in Beverly Birks Collection. I purchased it from Kent Watters several years ago.

I also post a "ritual pole pattern" becaue of your comments about that pattern. Published in Gavin's, "The women's warpath" (plate 97). I also purchased this from Kent Waters several years ago.

Finally at this time, I post a piece which I think is a "vine pattern"?. I wish the photo could do justice, It is an extremely rich deep red with very deep blacks. You feel like you could dive into the black. One of my favorites. I purchased it from a very excellent dealer in Kuching.

Naturally, the pictures are in reverse order to my mentions of them.

I have tried to keep to the forum requirements of less than 80K per picture so the details are not too well captured. I can post closeups if that helps.

I have a faily large collecton off pua and skirts from different Ibans (Saribas, Baleh, etc.) and Kalimantan Ibanic groups so I will not burden you with more unless you are interested. And if the Forum does not lose patience.

Vernon - again, I can not express well enough my pleasure at your joining the forum and providing links to your other offerings. I will devour them.

Thanks so much and keep posting!

-John



Dear John

Thank you for celebrating Sendi (Indai Gumbek) so lavishly. I believe Edric only published two prints of her works. But what fabulous prints they must have been to have affected you so deeply.

Bombard all you want, John. It is the very reason I am here in this forum; to share as much as I know with all of you who have taken such an interest in my material culture. Sendi would have wanted that, I am certain. You honour me and my people with your commitment to the preservation of my foremother's legacies in cloth. I too am learning from you in many ways.

The terms Bugau and Kantu were used interchangeably by the Saribas to mean 'enemy'. Up until my grandmother's day, I would often hear her refer to even traditional non-Iban enemies in the remoter parts of Sarawak as Bugau and Kantu. The Kantu, especially, were our most despised enemies. Very much like how the English and the French still ridicule one another today.

I have written an entry at my blog about the Bali Bugau Kantu. I hope it will answer your question.

http://vernonkeditjolly.blogspot.com/2009/06/revenge-of-remi.html

Further background reading: http://gnmawar.wordpress.com/jerita-lama/iban-migration-peturun-iban/early-iban-migration-part-1/?ref=Guzels.TV

Now, on to your deliciously fabulous pieces!


The Ceremonial Pole

Gavin calls it the Sandau Liau in her book. It is actually the Lemba Bumbun, the fifth degree of the Gawai Burong series. Lovely piece from the Paku, Saribas, of the Classical Period. The uniquely individualistic style suggests provenance of either the Matop, Samu or Entanak tributaries. I have seen this style there before. Quite unique and aggressive in the use of bold motifs, almost loud and as if disregarding the norm of the day which was immaculate finery and understated symbolism. Unless you have the Ranyai or the Gerasi Papa, this is the highest ranked Saribas piece in your collection. :wink:


The Sepapat

John, may I offer a suggestion. The word Sepapat does not exist in proper Iban. The correct name would be Berinjan Selempepat. You have a masterpiece from the Layar, and from your description of it being of handspun yarn, plus the crude usage of just two ara of white and red, I'd hazard a guess and place it in the Old Period. Maybe even the Ancient. You cannot get more Saribas than this! A fine piece any museum would covet!


The Vine?

I am not qualified to comment on this piece as it is not from the Saribas. A Skrang piece? Or even the Balleh? At first glance, I thought it looked like the ubiquitous Rang Jugah, but after a closer inspection, I believe it not to be the Rang Jugah either. Perhaps this is a tengkebang pattern (new composition by the weaver)? I have not seen this pattern before. And for such a large cloth, I doubt the weaver would just weave innocuous vines. There are hidden treasures in this piece. Are the two side borders stitched to the main body? If they are, that is a pretty good indication that it's a very old piece. Quite ancient. I love the black too! Very dramatic! But I qualify myself. I cannot be certain about anything about this cloth whose provenance is beyond the scope of my tradition.

John, I'd love to see more of your pieces, especially those from the Saribas. It's Christmas for me already!

Vernon


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 Post subject: Comments on Pua
PostPosted: Fri Jul 31, 2009 12:36 am 
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Location: Los Angeles, California, USA
Hello Vernon,
Thank you very much for your comments and insights on Iban Pua cloth. I really enjoyed reading them, especially your comments on Trudy Gavin's book. I have never bought into her theories about Iban motifs.

I look forward to seeing more of your family's collection. And of course, any information or history you can provide.

I would like to ask you about this Pua. Can you tell me anything about the motifs? I heard so many different stories over the years.

Best Regards,
Mark

PS: I like John's idea of forming a Pua appreciation society! I'm in!


Attachments:
File comment: Pua detail
8-9b.jpg
8-9b.jpg [ 119.46 KiB | Viewed 18262 times ]
File comment: Pua
8-9a.jpg
8-9a.jpg [ 89.36 KiB | Viewed 18262 times ]

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 Post subject: Re: Comments on Pua
PostPosted: Fri Jul 31, 2009 4:32 am 
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Location: Kuching, Malaysia
Mark Johnson wrote:
Hello Vernon,
Thank you very much for your comments and insights on Iban Pua cloth. I really enjoyed reading them, especially your comments on Trudy Gavin's book. I have never bought into her theories about Iban motifs.

I look forward to seeing more of your family's collection. And of course, any information or history you can provide.

I would like to ask you about this Pua. Can you tell me anything about the motifs? I heard so many different stories over the years.

Best Regards,
Mark

PS: I like John's idea of forming a Pua appreciation society! I'm in!



Hello Mark

Thank you for the thumbs up! I am quite floored by the enormous reception this forum has given me. Everyone is so nice and welcoming. Thank you guys!

Traude Gavin has contributed hugely to the available literature on Iban textiles. Her latest work is still, in my estimation, the most detailed and exhaustive analysis on the subject. I may disagree with her on certain points, but largely I am grateful that Miss Gavin has done an invaluable service for our people.

Mark, do you know where your pua is from? It's not from the Saribas, and as I have mentioned to John earlier, I hesitate to comment on pieces whose provenance are outside my scope of knowledge. Generally, the pua tradition is quite universal BUT local variants exist. A seed motif in the Saribas could quite mean something else in the Balleh, for instance.

Your piece has ten lozenge shaped motifs which suspiciously look like seeds encased in some sort of containers. Four small ones and six large ones. What particular kind of seeds? I cannot say for certain. In the Saribas, the seed motif is a covert reference to trophy heads. I am not sure if the same applies to wherever your pua is from. Assuming that these lozenge shaped motifs also mean 'seeds' to the weaver who made them, then we can safely suggest that she means to capture the spirit of ten trophy heads in her cloth. Which makes it an extremely powerful cloth ritually.

The main body is fenced in by rows of 'selaku' (auxilliary bands) one at each end. Contained within the selaku are more depictions of seeds. What a courageous weaver she must have been!

Having said all that, again, I must be careful to qualify myself and say that this is just my personal interpretation of the design based on a Saribas perspective. I may well be wrong on all counts!

I am curious what others have told you of their interpretation of this quite stunning design.

Vernon

PS. The blue outermost band suggests a northern provenance where they do not adhere to the strict rules we have in the Saribas for selvedge colours.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jul 31, 2009 3:09 pm 
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Hello Vernon,
I know Trudy and I agree that her work is much appreciated, as there is so little written on Indonesian and Borneo tribal art. However, a major point of her work centered around this "controversal" theory on Iban motifs. I not only disagreed with her line of reasoning, but I found it to be a unnecessary distraction amongst collectors.

As to the Pua in question. I bought this from a couple that traveled through the Iban ares in the early-mid 1970's. They kept very good records at the time, but unfortunately, some of the records were lost. At the time I bought this, I believe it was collected in the Balleh or one of its tributaries. They were told it was woven in the late 19th century.

I know of three other examples with this motif, one that I had years ago and long since sold, another in a collection in Germany, and another in a collection in Los Angeles that was published in Mary Hunt Kahlenberg's original book on Indonesian textiles (when she was the textile curator at LACMA). I recently sold this example to a collector in Switzerland.

Originally, this pattern was described as a "Tiger-Cat", probably because the motif resembles tiger stripes. Another early variation was "Line-of-Flame", again because there appears to be little flame like patterns running up and down the edges of the pattern. I believe these were just fanciful western interpretations. From my view the patterns reminded me of masks, with two big eyes and a diamond shaped mouth with bared teeth (something you often see with the Kayanic Dayak), but I know this is just my fanciful interpretation.

Eventually, I showed a photo of this Pua to some Iban weavers in Sarawak and they told me that this pattern is called "The Well of Kumang", honoring Kumang the goddess of weaving. They claimed this is a extremely high rank pattern and only woven by the most accomplished weavers. It is a very well woven example and larger than most Pua.

That's all I know about this textile. It has always been one of my favorites and I kept if for over 25 years, before finally selling it last year.

As I find additional images, I will post them on this Forum.
Best Regards,
Mark

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Mark Johnson

http://www.markajohnson.com
Mark A. Johnson Tribal Art


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 31, 2009 3:31 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jul 27, 2009 6:05 pm
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Location: Kuching, Malaysia
Mark Johnson wrote:
Hello Vernon,
I know Trudy and I agree that her work is much appreciated, as there is so little written on Indonesian and Borneo tribal art. However, a major point of her work centered around this "controversal" theory on Iban motifs. I not only disagreed with her line of reasoning, but I found it to be a unnecessary distraction amongst collectors.

As to the Pua in question. I bought this from a couple that traveled through the Iban ares in the early-mid 1970's. They kept very good records at the time, but unfortunately, some of the records were lost. At the time I bought this, I believe it was collected in the Balleh or one of its tributaries. They were told it was woven in the late 19th century.

I know of three other examples with this motif, one that I had years ago and long since sold, another in a collection in Germany, and another in a collection in Los Angeles that was published in Mary Hunt Kahlenberg's original book on Indonesian textiles (when she was the textile curator at LACMA). I recently sold this example to a collector in Switzerland.

Originally, this pattern was described as a "Tiger-Cat", probably because the motif resembles tiger stripes. Another early variation was "Line-of-Flame", again because there appears to be little flame like patterns running up and down the edges of the pattern. I believe these were just fanciful western interpretations. From my view the patterns reminded me of masks, with two big eyes and a diamond shaped mouth with bared teeth (something you often see with the Kayanic Dayak), but I know this is just my fanciful interpretation.

Eventually, I showed a photo of this Pua to some Iban weavers in Sarawak and they told me that this pattern is called "The Well of Kumang", honoring Kumang the goddess of weaving. They claimed this is a extremely high rank pattern and only woven by the most accomplished weavers. It is a very well woven example and larger than most Pua.

That's all I know about this textile. It has always been one of my favorites and I kept if for over 25 years, before finally selling it last year.

As I find additional images, I will post them on this Forum.
Best Regards,
Mark



Hello Mark

Balleh would seem about right as provenance. And there you go...The Well of Kumang! How completely off the track I was. :oops:

It's definitely an old piece, and typically large of the Balleh. Stunning!

Vernon


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