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 Post subject: Sulawesi ikat
PostPosted: Thu Jan 12, 2012 3:18 am 
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Location: Beijing
Here is my souvenir from my Christmas trip to Bali. I am particularly pleased with this because it is a spectacular cloth, now decorating the end wall in my living room.

It was made by Toraja Karataun people from Batuisi and came via the Threads of Life gallery in Ubud.

Threads of Life also gave me a copy of a very interesting powerpoint presentation of the weaving group, which they have been working with for the past decade. These weavers formerly wove for sale to other Toraja people and probably accounted for many of the old textiles from this area that are now in overseas collections. Their natural dyes (though a limited range of colors) are impressive, particularly the Morinda red. The cloth is called a Sekomandi. Western publications usually describe this as a funeral cloth, which is partly correct, though these cloths were also displayed in other ceremonial events as well.


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File comment: Sekomandi cloth from Batuisi, Sulawesi. 1.48m x 2.16m. Commercial cotton and natural dyes. Weaver's name is Sebur. (this photo was assembled ... slightly imperfectly ... from two photos since the piece is too big to fit on my photo backdrop)
KT78A.jpg
KT78A.jpg [ 239.93 KiB | Viewed 6910 times ]

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 12, 2012 10:31 am 
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Chris, Torajan textiles are so dynamic! This one has really strong colors. It was ikated and the warp threads arranged on the loom with great care, producing the crystal clear patterns. We don't see many this good. Did Threads of Life have any info on what the motifs are called or mean? How about the name sekomandi?

A feast for the eyes! Thanks for posting it. MAC


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 12, 2012 6:33 pm 
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Yes, truly rich, vibrant and glorious! It must dominate your room as it is no shrinking violet!

Love it! The weaving groups that Threads of Life work with produce some very, very high quality textiles - a credit to all those concerned and a joy to see. Many thanks for sharing it with us.

Best,

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2012 1:00 pm 
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Glad you both like it!

I am unclear on what "Sekomandi" means. The Threads of Life presentation uses this term to mean ceremonial textiles generally from this area. It also gives local names to a few motifs, but not the one on this cloth (I think). Other publications refer to the motif as "sekomandi".

The powerpoint presentation is 100Mb, a bit large to send by email.

I noticed recently that the Holmgren and Spertus collection of Torajan cloths is in the National Gallery of Australia, and that you can find a lot of them if you search their collection and look for "ikat", "Toraja" etc. The captions give the names of the different textiles, but not the motifs.
http://nga.gov.au/Collection/index.cfm

A lot of these motifs seem to be variations on this basic shape (pic attached).


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File comment: motif from Torajan ikat cloth
DKL.jpg
DKL.jpg [ 27.33 KiB | Viewed 6867 times ]

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2012 1:18 pm 
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On the Threads of Life website there is a section on textiles from Sulawesi with 11 slides: http://www.threadsoflife.com/textile.as ... sland#none (indeed there is separate info on each of the islands where they are working with the weaving communities). The penultimate slide has a strong textile with a similar 'feel' but different detailed motifs - I think, flicking between image on ToL website and Chris' textile. There is a name for the design shown on the ToL website.

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 Post subject: The Birth Symbol
PostPosted: Sun Jan 22, 2012 4:54 am 
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Chris, This looks like the birth symbol as described by Max Allen in the book " THE BIRTH SYMBOL IN TRADITIONAL WOMEN'S ART FROM EURASIA AND THE WESTERN PACIFIC" Published by The Museum for Textiles, Toronto, Canada in 1981.

Max Allen says the motif depicts the Great Goddess and goes back 400 generations to the earliest times when the female principle was venerated and God was a woman. The Mother Goddess presided over a golden age of intimate, peaceful, village life.

The development of male dominated merchant and military classes and the rise of great civilizations based on trade and conquest spelled her demise. Her temples were destroyed, her worship forbidden and she was replaced by a male God.

Her image survived in the medium of textiles, a realm still controlled by women. They have passed it down to us through the millennium as the birth symbol motif.

The book shows the birth symbol in textiles from Eastern Europe to Borneo, Mindanao, Sulawesi, Sumatra and the furthest reaches of Indonesia. It is found in all the textile patterning techniques, beadwork, basketry and to some extent in ornaments and carving but the focus is on textiles.

For anyone interested in textiles and their patterns this book is well worth reading.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 22, 2012 1:33 pm 
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Oh yes, that looks like a version of Max Allen's birth symbol, but my eyebrows go up when someone claims a symbol is 400 generations old. That is at least 10,000 years. Let it be only 8,000; we're still back before we have anything to go on.

Here is a long review of Alllen's book from 1983, time when many theories were being espoused in the rug world.
http://www.rugreview.com/au/birth.htm

I am very sceptical about theories that sweepingly explain that similar - only somewhat similar - motifs from very diverse cultures represent the same thing, especially when - in some examples - it is so apparent that the motif could have evolved anywhere as an attractive solution to balance the colors of warp and weft.

Just my opinion, and no offense intended, Chris and Mac.
And thanks, Chris, for mentioning the dimensions.

Larry


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 22, 2012 2:27 pm 
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I must say that I am very much with Larry in feeling very uneasy about attributing meaning to symbols on such a wide basis and feel that the technical attributes of various techniques lead to the similar development of motifs by exponents of a particular technique e.g. weaving across a wide geographic area.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2012 1:45 am 
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Greetings from Sulawesi,

answering MAC's question on "sekomandi" from a few posts back. According to the Todi' gallery owner (in Rantepao) this is the general term for large ikat cloths for display (rather than wearing I assume). It is composed (he says) of "sekon" meaning "hook" and the rest of the word means "large". So "large hook" textiles. Referring to the designs, presumably.

More when I get back to my desk mid-Feb.

Chris

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 Post subject: Large Hook
PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2012 6:38 am 
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Chris, Great info, thanks a lot. Calling an ancient, sacred motif, which is religiously followed and handed down through the generations, by a name which seems merely descriptive, may indicat that the Torajanese like so many other tribes that use this motif have lost its potent, primodial meaning. The same motif is called a frog, crocodile, lizard, tiger's ear, bird, rams horns or lovers' quarrel in other tribes because that is what they think it looks like now.

This is just the point that Max Allen makes in his book. Although somewhere down the line, the true meaning of the motif has been lost, it has remained a traditionally important and powerful symbol that must be handed down intact through the generations.

While you are in Sulawesi could you inquire about the names for the parts of the backstrap loom and the words cotton, spin, weave, ikat, indigo, morinda and lime (used with the indigo) in Torajanese? That info would be most interesting to compare with other areas that use the backstrap loom and do ikat.
Lucky you, wish I were there! Have a safe trip and good luck finding some interesting textiles. Look forward to seeing them and hearing about your trip and information obtained. Take care and thanks again for the motif info. Best regards


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Feb 10, 2012 8:17 am 
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Now in Jakarta and got the wifi back again...

On the loom parts i don't have much to share, MAC. This trip was not a textile hunting trip specifically, and the main weaving centers were the Rongkong and Kalumpang areas rather than Rantepao (of which there are still weavers in the Kalumpang area, where the cloth I posted above comes from, not sure about Rongkong but i don't think there is weaving there any more). Kalumpang is rather more remote will have to wait for another trip.

As for the large hook motifs I heard two explanations:
1) "it's a big hook" (as mentioned)
2) "motif is called ulu karua kasale, represents 8 brothers (meaning the heads of 8 clans)"

I didn't push my inquiries very far since this isn't where the weaving is done (their textiles are mostly from the Kalumpang area too).

I did photograph a lot of traditional houses and rice barns (Tongkonan), which the Rantepao area is famous for. The set of motifs on these are not the same as that used in textiles, but there is some overlap. A few photos attached. Also attended a Torajan funeral (compulsory for all tourists!) and saw some nice beaded costumes. I'll put something on that in the travel section later.


Attachments:
File comment: decoration (carved and painted) at the front of a traditional Torajan house near Rantepao
Toraja-327.jpg
Toraja-327.jpg [ 144.6 KiB | Viewed 6627 times ]
File comment: detail
Toraja-322.jpg
Toraja-322.jpg [ 109.7 KiB | Viewed 6627 times ]
File comment: decoration at the front of a tradtional Torajan house
Toraja-320.jpg
Toraja-320.jpg [ 175.88 KiB | Viewed 6627 times ]

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Mar 26, 2013 12:47 am 
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Very strong piece indeed, and a fine example of the good that Threads of Life is doing. Seko mandi to my knowledge is the term used in Rongkong and Galumpang area for 'shroud': large almost square cloths used mostly as shrouds, but also to shield the corpse or construct makeshift canopies to offer shelter to the guests. The term shroud here is to cover also a related use: as a blanket for the sick. When someone becomes seriously ill, and death seems imminent or unavoidable, the patient will be wrapped in several of these ikat cloths.

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PUSAKA COLLECTION: ONLINE MUSEUM OF TRADITIONAL INDONESIAN IKAT TEXTILES


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