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 Post subject: Mystery printed textile
PostPosted: Thu Nov 20, 2008 5:22 am 
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Location: Chiang Mai, Thailand
Long ago I found this unusual piece in Bali, where it was considered special (maybe that was to justify the price :wink: ). I am struck by its resemblance to Khmer silks in terms of pattern, however, unlike the Khmer silks which are 'hol', or weft ikat, it is printed and is identical on both sides. That makes me wonder if the inks went thru the fabric really well, or it might have been printed on both sides. I cannot find anything like it in John Guy's book Woven Cargoes about the printed trade textiles from India, and am wondering if it could possibly be Dutch. Thoughts anyone?


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 22, 2008 6:01 pm 
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Susan,

I think it is Indian. It's clearly attempting to make reference to the Patola cloth which was revered in Bali as well as the other islands. I have seen some Dutch prints, but not like this. I also think the sides were each died. Bleed through would not produce such tight lines on the back side. Although registering the cloth so the design is in the same place on each side seems a bit daunting, but then the process taken on all these textiles seem daunting.

Bill


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 Post subject: Indian or Dutch?
PostPosted: Sun Nov 23, 2008 8:59 am 
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Hi Susan,

What a lovely textile and riddle!

I think it will be hard to determine its place of origin from a few photographs and I think a real technical expert would be needed to discern whether Indian or European (Dutch, French or English) techniques are involved here. It is not just design that we need to look at because there was a great deal of copying and reciprocal inspiration, international commissions, and production to meet the taste of the buyer. Also in the area of techniques and dyes, there was tremendous trade and cross-fertilization.
If we knew the age of the cloth, that would point to some likely origins and preclude others. I am attaching a quote from an article I wrote a few years ago and I hope it might he helpful (and not too, too long). I published it in 2005. This is the precise reference:

"The Prism of Fashion: Temptation, Resistance and Trade"/ "Het Prisma van de Mode; Verleiding, Verzet en Handel". In Jan Brand and José Teunissen (eds.) Global Fashion Local Tradition: On the Globalisation of Fashion/Over de globalisering van de mode. Arnhem: ArtEZ hogeschool voor de kunsten, Arnhem and Centraal Museum and Utrecht: Terra

Quote:
Each of the popular, high quality tropical dyestuffs, in other words, exemplifies early international trade. Furthermore, the skills required to deploy those dyes came from international sources. Flemish, German and Portuguese dyers were brought in to teach their skills in the north, thereby weaving still more densely the international threads of the dye and textile industry. Dyeing was a complex craft - as anyone who has worked with natural dyes knows – and dyers were held in high esteem for their abilities. Under their tutelage, the use of polychrome in textiles spread like an ink-blot from France and Germany into England and Holland. Success encouraged more experimentation with dye recipes and expansion of the local cultivation of woad, saffron and madder.

Revolutions of Rising Colour Expectations

Given the great advancements by European manufacturers in the textile industry and their growing need for markets, early involvement in the Asian trade networks must have been a great disappointment because it quickly became apparent that the quality of English and Dutch woollens was still too low to compete with Indian cloth. It was not enough for European goods to be desirable in the East as a novelty. Indian cottons, on the other hand, sustained the trade throughout the East, and were indispensable to exchange for other products, such as spices, that the Europeans desired. Although the Europeans were not able to use their own textiles in this trade, their shipping competence in gave them an important edge. They were able to take goods from India more quickly and cheaply to North Africa, Turkey and the Levant by sea than they had previously been exported through the Red Sea or the Persian Gulf, and then overland by expensive caravan traffic (Irwin and Schwartz 1966:11), another illustration of how the global web that had been spun for more than a millennium and a half by the coloured cloth of India became denser and more extensive through European involvement.

Initially, Indian cloth was also little more than a novelty in England and Holland, the reason also relating to colour application. Indian patterning did not appeal to European taste. Anxious to stimulate a home market, the trade companies began to commission works by supplying samples of European designs for Indian dyers and printers to copy. The strategy worked. Within decades European demand for Indian goods was overwhelming (Irwin and Schwartz 1966: 44- 45) to the extent – reminiscent of Pliny’s concern for the health of the Roman economy more than a millennium prior, and the resistance of northern Europe to southern polychrome luxuries prior to the discovery of the sea routes to Asia – that consumers were willing to bleed their countries of the gold necessary to procure those goods rather than to forego them. The solution of re-trade took on new urgency as a way to re-coup some of the gold that was being lost in original procurement .

The East India Company policy of commissioning textile designs coincident with English tastes encouraged the development of exotic, multi-cultural design mixtures. The English designs were ‘modified in Indian hands, and then the Indianized versions were welcomed as new and exotic back again in Europe’ (Irwin and Schwartz 1966: 53). The design exchange became that much more complex because the English had become enamoured of Chinese patterning at the end of the seventeenth century, and had developed their own forms of chinoiserie. These were among the samples sent to India, such that an Indian form of chinoiserie developed. ‘At the final stage we find Indian chinoiserie designs being sent from Madras to Canton for copying by Chinese embroiderers and silk-painters. By this time it was a convention so far removed from authentic Chinese art that Cantonese embroiderers were probably unaware of its Chinese origins at all’ (Irwin and Schwartz 1966:53). (fig. 3a) England had been drawn into the Asian fold of reciprocal multi-cultural design influences.

The popularity of Indian chintz, which reached its peak in Europe in 1685, had to do - in great measure - with colour. “These cloths acquire their value and price from their brightness and, if I may say so, from the solidity and fastness of the colours they are dyed with, and which, so far from losing their brilliance by washing, actually grow more beautiful” (Father Coeurdoux, missionary to India, and famous for his description of indigenous dyeing techniques, cited in Irwin 1966: 104). They were used by rich and poor alike in all manner and form: as fancy dress and sleepwear, outerwear and linings, wall-coverings and upholstery fabric (fig. 3b-f). The heavily laden VOC ships that docked at Amsterdam, the European centre of re-distribution, couldn’t keep up with the European demand.

The consequences of the calico craze were considerable. In panic, first England, then France and other European countries passed sumptuary laws in an attempt to bridle the demands of fashion that were threatening the domestic local woollen industry. But resistance proved to be in vain. The strategy chosen by the Dutch, and eventually followed in Germany, France, England, Spain, and Switzerland, was to revive their own languishing textile printing industry by adapting and applying Indian printing methods. There is evidence that the new printing strategies actually came from ‘Turks’ (or Armenians) who immigrated to The Netherlands. Coming from places situated half-way between East and West, they had knowledge of the Indian techniques (Smit 1928). The first new-style printing industry in Amsterdam was set up in 1678.

The Indian printing technique involved the use of mordants in combination with madder. Coffee brown, gold brown, light and dark red, and purple were all derived from madder, depending on the mordant used, and none faded in the sunlight or ran when washed. As in India, carved wooden blocks were used to apply the mordants to the cloth so that the dyes would take in patterns. Indigo does not require working with mordants. To apply this blue dye in patterns, resist techniques were used. A wax-like substance was applied to the cloth in the areas that were to be left un-dyed, so that they would not take up the dye when the cloth was submerged in the dye vat.

The processes were slow and complicated requiring a large amount of start-up capital, much inside and outside space, considerable personnel, expert knowledge and experience, and a wide range of ingredients including access to clean, flowing water. But the effort and risk were worth it. By the middle of the eighteenth century, there were claims that the Dutch imitations could scarcely be distinguished from the Indian originals (Smit 1928: 64). Dyeing techniques were guarded in secrecy to thwart the rapidly emerging competition.

The success of the new enterprise increased the demand for dyestuffs. Tropical dyes came from the colonies. In addition, the cultivation of madder expanded considerably in France, Sweden, Denmark and England, eventually breaking the Dutch centuries-old monopoly. More cotton cloth was imported from India until mechanized spinning and weaving processes changed that into a demand for raw cotton.

Northern European Polychromes go Multi-national

Northern Europe was able to flood Italy’s markets with cheaper imitations of its own polychrome wares, thereby undercutting Italian production, and capturing dominance of the European textile markets from which it had been excluded – or from which it had withdrawn, sheltering its industry and independence behind a black protectionist shield. This inversion in textile production dominance was paralleled by a remarkable flip-flop in European fashions. The north was now less restrained in the use of polychrome fabric, foregoing some preference for black. In economic self-defence, the Italians wrote sumptuary legislation against the ‘gaudy and outlandish’ northern products – and began wearing the black with which we are currently familiar in southern Europe (Schneider 1978: 436). The European code of colour had been flipped on its head. Now it was Italy’s turn to try to learn the techniques developed in Holland and England to try to compete in the textile industry.

On a wider geographical scale, something comparable occurred between northern Europe and India. India was hit not only by Europe’s ability to copy her textile printing techniques, but by the mechanized spinning and weaving tools of the industrial revolution. Eventually, Europe was able to meet the Asian demand for cloth so skilfully and cheaply that it undercut Indian production. After 1820, the manufacture of Indian cotton textiles declined steadily (Bean 1989: 361). By 1825, two centuries after the earliest direct shipments of chintz to England and Holland, hand-spinning in India had virtually died out. From the greatest exporter of coloured cottons to the world, India had become one of the greatest importers of both yarn and fabrics.

The global web of trade woven around Indian textile production shifted as a result of the competition from European production. It is possible to point to the emergence of various new multi-cultural crucibles of design influence, but I restrict myself here to describing one that was catalyzed by Dutch involvement. It relates to the technique of batik, an ancient strategy for applying colour to cloth that the Dutch encountered on Java. While the origins of batik on Java are unclear, what is certain is that the technique numbers among the oldest in the world, and that it achieved a zenith of perfection on Java (fig.4a). Different styles and technical variations were found throughout the island, reflecting different regional and historical circumstances.

When the Dutch East India Trading Company, which had wrested monopoly from India and other European competitors, went bankrupt towards the end of the eighteenth century, places that had traded for centuries with India were left without the regular supply of trade cloth to which they had grown accustomed.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 26, 2008 2:19 pm 
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Sandra- Many thanks for the excerpt from your erudite article. It is interesting how textile trade was so global even in the 17th century and how keen competition was at that time. Regarding my textile, somehow I do not think it utilizes natural dyes, tho the colors clearly are intended to mimic them. Hence there is none of the need to apply resist to areas of indigo, which gives a very distinctive look to a textile- or so it seems upon examination of those in John Guy's book Woven Cargoes.

I have no idea when this was made, but do find that the pattern mimics Khmer textiles with the borders arranged the same way, the central field a repetitive pattern, and the elaborate 'yantra' motifs used on the ends. (for some examples, we have a new exhibition of antique Khmer silks online at http://www.tribaltrappings.com/TACA_1.html). Unlike the Khmer 'chawng kbun' silks however, this textile is about half the length and not as wide. The cotton appears to not be handspun, and is probably machine woven, as it is quite regular and fairly fine. It is also somewhat stiff from the applied color on the surface(s). To feel it, one might think it is of recent production, but the number of small holes that have been repaired make me think it has some age. I cannot imagine that it was made for the Siamese or Khmer market- they had the real things. In Indonesia the patola cloth of Gujarat, India was much revered, and imitated, but this piece is clearly an interpretation of that with distinctive Khmer motifs and design aspects. Might it have been made for Indonesia as an exotic 'take' on patola...? If so, for what purpose? In Bali there was a traditional textile called a 'cepuk' that was worn by men of high status as a 'saput', or overskirt for their sarongs, that was inspired by patola, but was smaller, and did not have any Khmer motifs. Also, 'cepuks' were silk with ikat patterns- not printed.

Again, thank you much for the interesting article and for the insight into a past era that resonates even now.

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Susan Stem

http://www.tribaltrappings.com
http://tribaltrappings.blogspot.com/


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 Post subject: mystery printed textile
PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2009 8:21 pm 
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Location: Japan
What a beautiful textile! When I saw it I was reminded of the silk weft ikats of south Sumatra. The colors, patterns and layout of the cloth are very similar to the weft ikats of south Sumatra or even those of Malaysia. The colors look natural and I would say the cloth is quite old. I don't think it was produced in Europe. That leaves us with India or perhaps Java. The Dutch may have produced it on Java with the labor and skills of Javanese batik artists for the Sumatran market and somehow it made its way to Bali. It could have been brought to Bali by one of the local dealers from Sumatra who have been bringing textiles to Bali, where the market was, for 20 or 30 years. If the cloth is very thin and very hot wax is used the penitration can be very good. I don't think they would wax it on both sides if it was produced as a cheap, immitation of a silk weft ikat. It reminds me more of south Sumatra than any of the patola I have ever seen on Bali or other islands east to Timor. The size is more like south Sumatra than Cambodia. Java is much closer to Sumatra than India is so I would tend to go with made on Java by the Dutch for the Sumatran market before the advent of chemical dyes.


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PostPosted: Sun May 31, 2009 12:54 pm 
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Hi Susan, At the end of your post you mention silk ikat textiles produced on Bali and say they are called cepuks. If I am not mistaken, the silk weft ikat textiles of Bali are called ENDUK. They were produced on Bali. Cepuks are one of the exceptions to the general rule of "Warp ikat in cotton and weft ikat in silk". Cepuks are weft ikat but they are done in cotton and were produced on the small island of Nusa Penida just off the east coast of Bali. I have a number of enduks and cepuks in my collection and all of the weft ikats in cotton that I saw on my many visits to Bali in the 70's and 80's were called cepuks. Nusa Penida is a small, dry island suited to cotton production and the cepuk weft ikat textiles were produced for export to Bali. Cepuks show a strong patola influence in their layout and patterns, especially resembling the short or baby patola, length about 180cen., that were popular in Sumatra and Bali. Enduks on the other hand often had non-patola patterns such as Wayan shadow puppet figures, Garudas or geometric patterns not related to patola. The weft ikat of an enduk was often subordinate to and in many cases almost hidden by silver and/or gold weft brocade. I don't remember ever seeing a cepuk with silver or gold brocade or any other form of patterning other than weft ikat. Enduks were much smaller than cepuks, half their width at about 30 or 40 cen. and two of them were sewn together along the selvage to produce the saput that you spoke of. Is there anyone out there with a cepuk or enduk they would be willing to post a photo of? When I learn how to use my digital camera and how to post the photos on the forum I will be more than happy to post a cepuk and enduk from my collection. In the meantime I am hoping for a response from some generous CandE lover who must be out there somewhere! In closing I would like to change the subject and ask Susan if she has any Cambodian silks with soul ship or dragon patterns like those in the book "Ikat, Batik and Pelangi"? I really enjoyed the pieces you posted for sale! The multiple skills, discipline and time required to produce these magnificent testiles boggle the mind and are the reasons why nobody is popping out fakes! I rather doubt there is anyone alive today with the skills and determination required to produce one of these superb textiles!!!
Greetings and best regards to all you textile lovers out there, MAC


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PostPosted: Sun May 31, 2009 4:26 pm 
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Hi MAC and many thanks for your contemplative and informative posts!

Indeed, you are quite right about most cepuks being cotton. I was remembering, perhaps wrongly, an old one I used to have which I thought was silk- it was quite fragile and with many holes and repairs. Unfortunately I do not have any photos of it to show. In referencing some of my books on Balinese textiles, I find that cepuk are made in both Nusa Penida and Bali, and tho most are cotton, a few are in silk. One distinctive design motif which is unique to cepuk is a row on each side of the side borders of stepped points, usually in white, which represent the teeth of the Barong. I won't go into all the symbolism, uses and meanings imparted to these textiles, but will mention the excellent article 'A Sacred Cloth of Rangda; Kamben Cepuk of Bali and Nusa Penida' by Marie-Louise Nabholz-Kartaschoff, in To Speak With Cloth; Studies in Indonesian Textiles, edited by Mattiebelle Gittinger, pp181-197.

And thank you for mentioning endek; it is also another Balinese textile form that is made with the technique of weft ikat. The old ones were made in silk and were the cloths of royalty, but more recently endek is being produced in meter-wide cotton widths, on frame looms in Sideman, and worn for ceremonial occasions. I show below an old single width endek chestwrap in silk, and a modern (10-15 yr.old) example of the single-width sarong version in cotton. Both are reminiscent of ... ta da ... patola!! The book Balinese Textiles has a chapter on endek called 'Ikat Production in Transition', which alludes to the profound changes in this textile form, from one for royalty to one that has become ubiquitious. On my last visit I even saw printed versions of endek sarongs being worn! These were no doubt much less expensive than the woven ones.

Re your earlier thoughts about my printed textile being from Java for use on Sumatra: very interesting idea. However, my piece is not batik, but rather is printed, tho it doesn't look like it was done using a stamp- maybe some sort of stencils or silkscreen perhaps. I think you are thinking of the cloths from Palembang in south Sumatra, which were in silk and predominantly shades of red, often with gold metallic thread motifs (songket). I don't have a photo of one to post, but wish someone else would, as they are also a variation on the theme of patola, and it would be nice to have one for comparison purposes. (Susi- are you out there?). I do find the designs on the ends of my cloth a very curious circumstance: they are most definitely of the Khmer 'yant' type of motif. But why would they be on a textile for use in Indonesia?

...the mystery continues...


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File comment: Old 'endek' chestwrap in silk from Bali
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File comment: Modern 'endek' cloth in cotton from Bali
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Mail-TIB124.jpg [ 34.26 KiB | Viewed 8152 times ]

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Susan Stem

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 Post subject: oops!
PostPosted: Sun May 31, 2009 4:31 pm 
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Me again...
Sorry, MAC, but I don't know the book Ikat, Batik, and Pelangi, so cannot compare. But I do not have any Khmer silks with ships or dragons. I do have several with stylized naga, as shown on the website.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 02, 2009 7:51 pm 
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Susan, Thank you very much for your prompt and informative reply. It is wonderful to be in touch with textile lovers around the world on this forum! The book I mentioned is "The Dyer's Art (Ikat, Batik, Plangi), by Jack Lenor Larsen 1976 Van Nostrand Reinhold. It is a great book that covers resist textiles and techniques the world over. The sampot hol are on pages 206-208. Balinese wefts on p.202 and they do say that both cotton and silk were used. I never saw any endeks in cotton and haven't been to Bali since the early 90's. Seems things have changed a lot!
Back to your printed textile. Looking closely at the red bands on the ends it seems like on the right side the blue diamond on the bottom is quite close to the edge of the cloth but farther away at the top, showing part of the next pattern repeat. On the left side this seems to be reversed. Could this be because the stamps were turned 180 degrees? The colors seem like old natural colors and I think you said there were many fine repairs. This seems to indicate age and that the textile was valued highly enough to make the repairs and continue to use the textile. Were they using stencils or silk screens 100 plus years ago in India or Holland? When did the printing of textiles by machine begin?
The end panels seem to have 12 bands of motifs each seperated by a straight, vertical line. Starting from the right end and going towards the center field, bands 1,3,9, and 11 seem to be the same motif (stamp). Only band 12, the side panels and the center field seem to have intended and regular white dot patterning. White seems to appear only randomly in the other 11 bands of the end panels. Could this be the result of errors in stamping a resist? Most of the textile is red or the dark background color which I presume is an overdye of red yellow and blue. Could red have been dyed first? After the resist was removed and red white and blue reresisted was yellow dyed next? After another reresisting of red, white and yellow could blue be the final color dyed? It is hard to tell from internet photos but there seem to be breaks in the patterns where stamps were aligned. If a resist was not used could the patterns have been printed directly using wooden blocks like a Japanese wookblock print with blocks for each pattern and color? Did they do this type of direct printing in India? This textile is really a puzzle! Still, I can't help but think that it was resisted or directly printed with stamps or woodblocks. More thought and research is needed. Thanks again, MAC


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 07, 2009 4:46 am 
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MAC-
Many thanks for your close examination of my photos and the thought-provoking comments! I will study the piece some more and try to take some pertinent photos relevant to your comments. I will say that stamps take several forms: carved wood in India, presumably for the direct application of color; wooden blocks with the motifs in raised metal, as well as all metal with similarly raised motifs in Java, for batik wax application. There are probably some made for applying a paste resist, but I haven't seen them- only stencils, as used in southwest China. It is very interesting to contemplate the various methods of printing on cloth and to consider how far-ranging they are. Maybe some forum members could post some of their printed pieces on a new thread: examples that come to mind are paste resist from Central Asia, as well as China, stamped prints from India etc., others utilizing various types of resists.

I also appreciate your followup on the Larsen book- I don't have it, but will look for it now. He was an amazingly versatile textile designer and this book sounds like a worthy addition to any textile lover's library.

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Susan Stem

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 16, 2009 8:33 am 
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The plot thickens! I have had the privilege recently to show this printed textile to both Gillian Green (Traditional Textiles of Cambodia) and Linda McIntosh (Ritual Tai Textiles). Linda thinks it could have been printed in Gujarat for the Thai market, and used for the tonsure (cutting of the topknot) coming of age ceremonies. This would explain the small size, as it would have been worn by a child age 9-12. How and why it got to Bali is still a mystery!

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