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PostPosted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 4:38 pm 
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Joined: Mon May 24, 2004 7:35 pm
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Location: east coast
HI again Mac - and perhaps others.

I should also have mentioned that another fascinating reading is the 4 volume - Encyclopedia of Iban Studies, Vols. 1-4, 2001, pp. 2,783, Vinson H. and Joanne Sutlive (general editors). Perhaps Vernon can add any comments - pro or con - about the set.

I bought my set while visiting the Tun Jugah Gallery in Kuching several years ago but you can probably get it through the Borneo Research Council site also.

And someone mentioned movies of the weaving process. I made movies with my ditital camera of the weavers at the Tun Jugah Gallery. Also of the yarns being wrapped on the loom, folded, and much more. I regret to say through a computer crash I lost them before I could back them up. I think about that loss and regret it almost daily.

Back up regularly is my motto and practice now.

-John

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 Post subject: Pua Kumbu
PostPosted: Sat Aug 29, 2009 7:56 am 
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Joined: Thu Jul 30, 2009 8:34 pm
Posts: 23
Location: Amsterdam
Pamela, John and Vernon,

Thank you all so much for sharing all the wonderful pua from your collections and especially your knowledge concerning these pieces and Iban weaving in general. I have also quite enjoyed the Iban skirts thread.

Although my primary field of research is Eurasian bast fiber textiles in general (hemp in particular) I took an early interest in ikats (Guatemalan) which continues to grow as I travel in Asia. Warp ikats abound throughout the Indonesian archipelago, but none excite my fancies like the Iban pua kumbu blankets and kain kebat skirts.

All of the Iban textiles in my collection were purchased within the past few years, almost all in Sarawak, about half from shops and half during two canoe trips to longhouses along the Rejang and Baleh river tributaries. Therefore, only a few may be from Saribas and unfortunately are those I know the least about as they were all purchased in Kuching.

So, I am eager to receive your comments and to learn more about these intriguing textiles. Finally I am able to post photos to the forum thanks to Pamela's patient tutoring.

I will present this pua and others as the whole textile first and then four overlapping images of the pattern strip from top to bottom.

Pua RC001 was purchased in Kapit town on the Rejang and seems of relatively recent vintage. The red/white/blue selvages and interlocking blue/white stitches across the ends seem characteristic of Rejang/Baleh pua, although the double selvage stripes are uncommon. The top end pattern has been variously described as either bamboo shoots or rice plants.

I am attracted to the strong abstract reptilian patterns and rich dyes. The full-length exposure of blue indigo is striking, but not characteristic of the older examples, which reveal the indigo more sparingly if at all, the majority overdied with enkudu to make the dark brown to black tones. (Trudy's book delves into the use of Morinda (enkudu) and indigo dies, dying proscriptions, etc.) I have no ideas about the smaller patterns between the elongated reptiles.

Can you give me your thoughts about this pua?

Cheers!

Rob


Attachments:
File comment: Pua RC001 Abstract reptiles purchased in Kapit - Full blanket
Pua-RC001aFullTTF.jpg
Pua-RC001aFullTTF.jpg [ 79.15 KiB | Viewed 19043 times ]
File comment: Pua RC001 Abstract reptiles purchased in Kapit - Top right selvage edge pattern
Pua-RC001bTopTTF.jpg
Pua-RC001bTopTTF.jpg [ 78.64 KiB | Viewed 19043 times ]
File comment: Pua RC001 Abstract reptiles purchased in Kapit - Upper middle right selvage edge pattern
Pua-RC001cHighmidTTF.jpg
Pua-RC001cHighmidTTF.jpg [ 79.25 KiB | Viewed 19043 times ]
File comment: Pua RC001 Abstract reptiles purchased in Kapit - Lower middle right selvage edge pattern
Pua-RC001dLowmidTTF.jpg
Pua-RC001dLowmidTTF.jpg [ 79.71 KiB | Viewed 19043 times ]
File comment: Pua RC001 Abstract reptiles purchased in Kapit - Bottom right selvage edge pattern
Pua-RC001eBottomTTF.jpg
Pua-RC001eBottomTTF.jpg [ 79.75 KiB | Viewed 19043 times ]

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Robert C. Clarke
Textile Collector and Researcher
International Hemp Association - Projects Manager
Society for Economic Botany - Life Member
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Sep 06, 2009 11:12 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jul 27, 2009 6:05 pm
Posts: 128
Location: Kuching, Malaysia
Dear Robert

I agree with you that the vintage of your textile is relatively recent. It's a blanket of snakes, plenty of them. I am always hesitant to describe or appraise blankets from outside the Saribas as my tradition differs somewhat from those of the Kapit, where this textile is from.

However, I can hazard a guess and suggest that the weaver probably wanted to tell the story of the nabau or water-serpent or relate a family experience or dream encounter involving the nabau.

In the Iban pantheon, the nabau is seen as a benevolent spirit helper. However, it is malevolent to enemies of the weaver and her menfolk.

In the hierachy of blanket designs, this pattern is regarded as powerful as it portrays a powerful spirit-helper.

Vernon


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Sep 06, 2009 11:13 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jul 27, 2009 6:05 pm
Posts: 128
Location: Kuching, Malaysia
Dear Robert

I would love to see your Saribas blankets.

Vernon


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 07, 2009 8:08 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jul 30, 2009 8:34 pm
Posts: 23
Location: Amsterdam
Dear Vernon,

Thanks for your experienced comments. It is a rare pleasure to have an exchange with someone who takes such an interest in collecting and understanding elements of their own culture. Although your deepest personal experience comes from Saribas, your comments concerning any Ibanic textiles are of great interest to me. As long as you and John have the patience for it - I will continue to post pua from the Rejang/Baleh region. I am just getting warmed up and you two have an amazing collective expertise.

I am sorry to say that I have never had the opportunity to visit the Saribas region. And so, I have no pua or kain of known Saribas origin. However, I suspect that the two pua I am now posting (purchased in Kuching) may be from Saribas and they are my two very favorites. I relish your response...

These came to me as a pair and that is why I post them together. They appear to be created by the same weaver and are of high skill. The yarn is single ply and although of varying diameter is almost certainly all machine spun. The prominent yellow bands in the borders hint at Saribas origin (?) based on what shopkeepers and museums have indicated. Both 004 and 005 have similar banded borders that I have heard referred to as the 'hornbill tail feather' pattern. Once again, the extensive appearance of indigo flowing the length intrigues me. RC004 also has several anthropomorphic figures near the top. Are these spirits (antu)? Otherwise the patterns are quite abstract and similar in both.

In the Rejang/Baleh region pua often include anthropomorphic and zoomorphic patterns including many different spirits (ex. antu gerasi). Is this also a characteristic of Saribas pua?

In general, anthro/zoomorphic motifs seem characteristic of more recent; and abstract patterns of older pua. Is their a similar correlation in Saribas pua?

OK, enough, I could ask you questions all day. Thanks for your time and patience.

I hope this pair of pua interests you even more than it intrigues me...

Rob


Attachments:
File comment: Pua 004 - Full view.
PuaRC004aFullTTF.jpg
PuaRC004aFullTTF.jpg [ 116.76 KiB | Viewed 18981 times ]
File comment: Pua 004 - Top patterns with antu?
PuaRC004bTopTTF.jpg
PuaRC004bTopTTF.jpg [ 96.25 KiB | Viewed 18981 times ]
File comment: Pua 004 - Upper middle patterns with antu?
PuaRC004cHighmidTTF.jpg
PuaRC004cHighmidTTF.jpg [ 101.87 KiB | Viewed 18981 times ]
File comment: Pua 004 - Lower middle patterns.
PuaRC004dLowmidTTF.jpg
PuaRC004dLowmidTTF.jpg [ 96.19 KiB | Viewed 18981 times ]
File comment: Pua 004 - Bottom patterns.
PuaRC004eBottomTTF.jpg
PuaRC004eBottomTTF.jpg [ 97.3 KiB | Viewed 18981 times ]

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Robert C. Clarke
Textile Collector and Researcher
International Hemp Association - Projects Manager
Society for Economic Botany - Life Member
Textile Society of America - Member
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 07, 2009 8:23 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jul 30, 2009 8:34 pm
Posts: 23
Location: Amsterdam
Dear Vernon,

Here is the second pua of the pair (Pua 005).

Please see the comments accompanying the first posting (Pua 004).

Cheers!

Rob


Attachments:
File comment: Pua 005 - Full view.
PuaRC005aFullTTF.jpg
PuaRC005aFullTTF.jpg [ 111.89 KiB | Viewed 18974 times ]
File comment: Pua 005 - Top patterns.
PuaRC005bTopTTFa.jpg
PuaRC005bTopTTFa.jpg [ 90.34 KiB | Viewed 18974 times ]
File comment: Pua 005 - Upper middle patterns.
PuaRC004cHighmidTTF.jpg
PuaRC004cHighmidTTF.jpg [ 101.87 KiB | Viewed 18974 times ]
File comment: Pua 005 - Lower middle patterns.
PuaRC005dLowmidTTF.jpg
PuaRC005dLowmidTTF.jpg [ 89.01 KiB | Viewed 18974 times ]
File comment: Pua 005 - Bottom patterns.
PuaRC005eBottomTTF.jpg
PuaRC005eBottomTTF.jpg [ 85.66 KiB | Viewed 18974 times ]

_________________
Robert C. Clarke
Textile Collector and Researcher
International Hemp Association - Projects Manager
Society for Economic Botany - Life Member
Textile Society of America - Member
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Sep 08, 2009 11:28 am 
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Joined: Mon Jul 27, 2009 6:05 pm
Posts: 128
Location: Kuching, Malaysia
Dear Robert

I am sorry to disappoint you but both blankets do not come from the same hand or family. The first blanket (004) is probably from the Julau (a close neighbour of the Saribas) and the second blanket (005) is most definitely from the Saribas.


PUA 004

This design is called the 'Miga Duduk' or literally translated 'Seated Clouds'. The blue design running length-wise are the 'clouds', and in between them are 'seated' spirits, or what you refer to as 'antu'. 'Antu' really means 'ghosts' but as a general term also may mean spirits or spirit helpers or even allude to gods and deities. To the uninitiated, even amongst the Iban, any anthropomorph is an 'antu', which is not wrong. In a general sense. But weavers, who have a whole language of their own, would be more specific and refer to each anthropomorph by its name.

I suspect this blanket is from the Julau because its angular coils are very Balleh-like yet the entire blanket is woven according to Saribas convention. And blankets from the Julau often display characteristics of both traditions - a schizophrenia typical of blankets woven in the pockets of areas in the central region tucked in between the southern and northern regions.

In the Saribas, we are most careful when it comes to portraying gods, deities and spirit helpers on cloth. We are hesitant to show them graphically for sheer respect and in deference to their omnipotence. It is, if you like, a subtlety of the Saribas where symbols take the place of graphic power. A seed or a sudden twist in the tendrils in the Saribas more often than not represent a much more larger concept, an unspoken message, often known only to the weaver. Hidden meanings and motifs of symbols. Some non-Iban observers have even suggested they have noticed a more cerebral approach to the refined design methodology in the Saribas, which I shall not argue with.

However, in the Balleh, quite conversely, "the bigger the better" is the norm. And a seed is a seed, nothing more. They call their spades, well, spades.

Anthropomorphs, in the Saribas, are highly potent graphic representations of great beings. Gods? Spirits? I couldn't tell you, only the weaver who wove them can as the Iban pantheon is a very busy one with multitudes of gods and goddesses, semi and demi deities and their respective servants, who also are revered. So the weaver could have woven any one of these heavenly hosts. And not just any weaver but a weaver with a pedigree.

Haddon & Start were absolutely spot-on when they wrote way back in 1936 that such graphic representations were the sole domain and right of high-born weavers. (Anyone disagreeing with Haddon & Start on this very basic point should really re-view their material.)

Therefore, by my reading, 004 is a blanket of great beings enthroned on clouds in the heavens. The weaver was capturing onto cloth mythology and deep spirituality: Seated Clouds, a literal allegory to Thrones of Gods.


PUA 005

I'm making a note of this blanket for future reference. Let me tell you why.

The design is called 'Berandau' or 'Rambling Discourse'. An abstract innocuous design that doesn't actually mean anything or portray any symbol. Young weavers use this pattern as an exercise before they begin weaving the more elaborate and significant patterns. The 'Berandau' teaches a weaver discipline and method, how to use space and how to elaborate on a given theme. Every weaver must weave at least one 'Berandau' design. (The alternative is the 'Rusa' or 'Deer', which is exclusively the right of high-born girls.)

This blanket is the typical 'practice' piece of a novice Saribas weaver, most probably her second or third blanket. Her coils are nicely curved but her tendrils are still somewhat unsteady. There are 'broken' lines and sudden spare un-used space. Her application of blue indigo was probably her mother's insistence on her learning the art of over-tie where the first tie is released after the first immersion and then exposed to the second immersion in indigo.

This blanket is important in any collection because very few practice pieces make it onto the market for two reasons:

1. Most weavers will not part with their earlier pieces that bear much sentimental value. Like how western brides would never part with their bridal trousseau.
2. Weavers do not see any spiritual significance attached to such pieces and therefore do not see any "market value" to have them sold to traders, and so such pieces tend to remain in the mouldy family chest.

Any exhibition of Iban blankets should have at least one practice piece, and your PUA 005, Robert, is a fine and exemplary piece. I may want to borrow it someday :-)


Vernon

PS. I would take what shopkeepers or dealers tell you with a cave full of salt. They are perpetrators of some of the biggest myths and fallacies surrounding Iban textiles. Yellow bands are synonymous with the Saribas only because we were geographically closer to towns and were able to afford the luxury of commercial threads before WW2, but I have seen yellow bands on some blankets from other regions too. So it is not a hard and fast rule.


I attach 4 photographs to illustrate the two different hands that tied the coils. One is rather stilted and angular (almost always Baleh), the other elegantly fluid and curved (the hallmark of the Saribas). It's really a matter of taste, although we in the Saribas maintain the curved coil is more laborious and time consuming to tie than the much easier angled coil. Which is a fact acknowledged by all weavers, irrespective of regional tradition. :-)


Attachments:
File comment: PUA 004 DETAIL
close up angled coil.jpg
close up angled coil.jpg [ 2.81 KiB | Viewed 18951 times ]
File comment: PUA 004 SECTION
angled coils.jpg
angled coils.jpg [ 52.66 KiB | Viewed 18951 times ]
File comment: PUA 005 DETAIL
close up curved coil.jpg
close up curved coil.jpg [ 3.7 KiB | Viewed 18951 times ]
File comment: PUA 005 SECTION
curved coils.jpg
curved coils.jpg [ 58.1 KiB | Viewed 18951 times ]


Last edited by vernonkeditjolly on Tue Sep 08, 2009 1:41 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Sep 08, 2009 11:58 am 
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Joined: Mon Jul 27, 2009 6:05 pm
Posts: 128
Location: Kuching, Malaysia
Robert

Could you post a close-up photograph of 004 please?

Preferably of either edge where the warp threads unravel to expose the weft (portion B in the attached pic). A really tight close-up. And then a tight close-up photograph of the coloured selvedge (portion A in the attached pic). I would compare the individual lose end threads of both yarns to see if there is a slight difference in size of each thread.

I have a sneaking suspicion the warp is actually made up of very fine handspun thread and not machine thread as you suggest.

And if this is so, then you have not only a beautiful blanket but also one made with much love and painstaking care.

Vernon


Attachments:
puarc004afullttf_109.jpg
puarc004afullttf_109.jpg [ 5.11 KiB | Viewed 18924 times ]


Last edited by vernonkeditjolly on Tue Sep 08, 2009 2:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Sep 08, 2009 12:23 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jul 27, 2009 6:05 pm
Posts: 128
Location: Kuching, Malaysia
Dear Robert

I attach a snapshot of my very old handwritten notes on the method of tying the coil, which I wrote and translated verbatim as grandaunt Julia spoke (many years ago when she was still alive).

Each tie has a term and the pupil must adhere strictly to the length and curvature of each tie. Contrary to popular belief, the coil is the most difficult of all fundamental patterns to master. A weaver's worth was measured by her coil. Literally.

(And now Pamela shall chastise me for exceeding the size limit of the photograph!)


Attachments:
DSC04017.JPG
DSC04017.JPG [ 123.52 KiB | Viewed 18942 times ]
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Sep 08, 2009 2:02 pm 
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Location: Canterbury, UK
Vernon

I will not chastise you in this instance!!! I am so enthralled by your discourse and images. I can see that it is necessary to have more K to see the diagram/text (and you did not exceed the max width for ease of reading of the thread if someone does not have a high definition screen).

Thank you, however, for keeping file/screen size in mind!

A big thank you for your careful and considered comments on Rob's posts and for taking the opportunity to enhance our knowledge. It is all getting quite compulsive from where I sit at my keyboard!

Best,

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Pamela

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


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 11, 2009 7:10 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jul 30, 2009 8:34 pm
Posts: 23
Location: Amsterdam
Vernon,

Thank you for your fascinating insights concerning these two pua. My learning curve has just become a bit steeper. Finally I have learned at least one distinguishing characteristic of Saribas pua - smooth rather than stepped coils - wonderful! The notebook page of coil tie terms is fascinating.
It apears you have been writing a book your entire life!

You really do have a sharp eye. Upon deeper inspection it appears that you are correct (Which does not surprise me one bit.) and the majority of warp yarns (and the weft) in both pua appear to be hand spun.

Pua 004 - All the warp yarns appear to be hand spun with the exception of the red selvage yarns and a pair of red yarns running through the brown (Morinda?) selvage stripe. The red yarns are much more tightly spun and are of a more uniform diameter than the remaining yarns, which are of quite variable diameter and soft twist.

Pua 005 - The ikat dyed warps appear to be hand spun. However, although the colored selvage stripe yarns are not so tightly spun as the red in 004, they are of relatively uniform diameter and I suspect they are machine spun.

I have attached closeup views A and B of both 004 and 005. I am sorry they are not a bit sharper. Please let me know what you think.

Does the use of hand spun vs. factory yarns assist in determining when a textile was woven?

Cheers!

Rob


Attachments:
File comment: Pua RC004 - Selvage stripe yarn detail at location A.
Pua-RC004WarpDetailATTF.jpg
Pua-RC004WarpDetailATTF.jpg [ 78.58 KiB | Viewed 18876 times ]
File comment: Pua RC004 - Yarn detail at location B.
Pua-RC004WarpDetailBTTF.jpg
Pua-RC004WarpDetailBTTF.jpg [ 79.33 KiB | Viewed 18876 times ]
File comment: Pua RC005 - Selvage stripe yarn detail at location A.
Pua-RC005WarpDetailATTF.jpg
Pua-RC005WarpDetailATTF.jpg [ 79.99 KiB | Viewed 18876 times ]
File comment: Pua RC005 - Yarn detail at location B.
Pua-RC005WarpDetailBTTF.jpg
Pua-RC005WarpDetailBTTF.jpg [ 79.02 KiB | Viewed 18875 times ]

_________________
Robert C. Clarke
Textile Collector and Researcher
International Hemp Association - Projects Manager
Society for Economic Botany - Life Member
Textile Society of America - Member
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Sep 12, 2009 7:33 am 
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Joined: Mon Jul 27, 2009 6:05 pm
Posts: 128
Location: Kuching, Malaysia
Dear Robert

The close-up pictures confirm my suspicions. BOTH blankets' central warp panels are of very fine handspun threads! What a treasure.

You asked, "Does the use of hand spun vs. factory yarns assist in determining when a textile was woven?"

Yes and No. The age of a blanket is guessed/determined by many factors, and the quality (handspun versus millspun) of the yarn is one of them, but not the main factor.

Commercially dyed threads only appeared in the late 1800s. So blankets with commercially dyed selvedge threads are DEFINITELY post circa 1870s.

Yet, weavers who have little access to commercial yarns in the deep interiors of the Batang Ai still grow their own cotton and spin their own threads.

So it's virtually impossible to be certain of age from an examination of the quality of the warp yarn alone.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Sep 12, 2009 7:41 am 
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Location: Kuching, Malaysia
Hi Pamela!

Thank you for not taking me to task!

Glad you're enjoying the Saribas tradition. I've made it my vocation to bring this very esoteric and much misunderstood tradition to the attention of the world. And your forum is a first class place for that. Thank YOU.


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 Post subject: Age of pua?
PostPosted: Sat Sep 12, 2009 2:59 pm 
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Vernon,

Thanks again!

Can you see any other diagnostic criteria in photos of pua 004 and 005 that may be indicative of their age?

Rob


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 Post subject: Re: Age of pua?
PostPosted: Tue Sep 15, 2009 7:10 am 
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Location: Kuching, Malaysia
Robert C. Clarke wrote:
Vernon,

Thanks again!

Can you see any other diagnostic criteria in photos of pua 004 and 005 that may be indicative of their age?

Rob


Dear Rob

Both your blankets are from the early Classical Period. (http://vernonkeditjolly.blogspot.com/2009/07/definitive-classical-pua-kumbu.html) I'd hazard a guess and place authorship around the 1920s. Maybe even earlier.

It's difficult to actually list a diagnostic criterion. There are many, many factors to look at, and I suppose one needs to be intimately familiar with Iban blankets to be able to gauge age. I suppose I have seen and handled enough blankets to get a feel for them.

Each blanket is unique, and I treat each one I see almost as a person with it's own personality and character. I really can't put into words this almost innate ability I have, but it has amazed even my relatives who can't tell the difference between two blankets when I can immediately see the subtle differences in the most unexpected places. Call it intuition or experience. Maybe it's in the blood.

One factor all writers of the Iban pua kumbu seem to either gloss over or miss is the fact that our blankets have transcendental properties. It scares me sometimes the things I feel, see and hear, but I have stopped questioning these experiences and have learned to embrace the unknown. Iban weavers attempt potent designs in the full knowledge that they are entering an unknown and fearful realm. To overcome fear is the hallmark not only of brave Iban warriors but also even braver Iban weavers.

Vernon


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