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PostPosted: Sun Jun 27, 2004 9:49 pm 
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This is another Iban bag of three I got from the family of a close Dutch friend. It allegedly is from the 30's. The decorative coins at the bottom are dated respectively 1896, 1866, 4 coins in very good condition dated 1914, 0r 1916. Does anybody know anything about this piece? I know very little about the Iban, except I love everything they produce.

Bill


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Woven Iban Bag #1-closeup.jpg
Woven Iban Bag #1-closeup.jpg [ 65.73 KiB | Viewed 12531 times ]
Woven Iban Bag #1.jpg
Woven Iban Bag #1.jpg [ 62.74 KiB | Viewed 12531 times ]
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 Post subject: Dongson strikes again!
PostPosted: Tue Jun 29, 2004 3:34 am 
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Hi Bill, extremely beautiful bag.

It would be a fun thread to show all our textiles that are embellished by old coins. Unfortunately, they can only date from the past, not to the present.

The design on this bag is one of the purest examples of Dongson motifs I've seen in island SEAsia. All those hooks, diamonds etc. I am getting ready to send on to Pamela some more photos from my collection, but I don't know when they will be posted.

However, I do suggest visiting my web site, which has one example of a tampan (presentation cloth) from (South) Sumatra which is also strongly influenced by Dongson motifs.

[Moderator: I have pasted the photo of the tampan below]

I really appreciate, and am eternally grateful to Pamela for helping me in this way.

Cheers,

Sandie


Attachments:
File comment: A "tampan" (offering cloth) from South Sumatra, illustrating the diffusion of the strongly geometric Dong Son design repertoire throughout Southeast Asia, including island Southeast Asia. early 20th century or older. Cotton (stiff with age) and
ss12e.jpg
ss12e.jpg [ 60.4 KiB | Viewed 12511 times ]

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 01, 2004 2:29 pm 
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Nice postings from Bill and Sandie on the bags and tampan.

To keep this going, I have posted a tampan I got from ebay for not very much money. It was not listed where you might expect it and came across it serendipitously. Not much more info on it except it came with some sort of museum type folder. Perhaps someone's collection?
More Dongson? I am trying to get a book on that culture which is written in Vietnamese from one of my colleagues. It has great if crude pix but I can't translate.

I understand there is a very large traffic in tampans and especially the classic palempai which are modern fakes woven with old threads and dyed to look very old.

I also purchased a Ulos from the same source as the tampan. Not one of the best but my only one. The "classic' ulos has the center end panels woven seperately and then attached. This one has them integral to the center warp and are wefted in place. Gittinger claims that this has been going on for some time.


-John


Sandra Shamis wrote:
Hi Bill, extremely beautiful bag.

It would be a fun thread to show all our textiles that are embellished by old coins. Unfortunately, they can only date from the past, not to the present.

The design on this bag is one of the purest examples of Dongson motifs I've seen in island SEAsia. All those hooks, diamonds etc. I am getting ready to send on to Pamela some more photos from my collection, but I don't know when they will be posted.

However, I do suggest visiting my web site, which has one example of a tampan (presentation cloth) from (South) Sumatra which is also strongly influenced by Dongson motifs.

[Moderator: I have pasted the photo of the tampan below]

I really appreciate, and am eternally grateful to Pamela for helping me in this way.

Cheers,

Sandie


Attachments:
File comment: Ulos. Synthetic threads. Rayon?

Center end panels woven in place as extension of the center weft. side panels sewn on. One end is "male" and the other end "female".

Probably latter half of 20th century?

ulos_.jpg
ulos_.jpg [ 61.36 KiB | Viewed 12491 times ]
File comment: Tampan purchased from eBay. The ship motif was powerful. You can see three such stacked ships.

Traces of old silver gimp now almost worn off. Evidence of actual use.

Age uncertain but from the evident wear on the silver gimp - early 20th cent.?

tampan_1_.jpg
tampan_1_.jpg [ 61.83 KiB | Viewed 12491 times ]

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 01, 2004 8:54 pm 
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Just to join in the tampan fun I am posting a photo of the only one which I have in my collection. Interesting to see the 'hook' motifs. I would like to think that mine is a genuine one. Very simple and graphic.

I have a collection of Batak ulos which I collected in Sumatra in 1997. I have the most beautiful Toba Batak ulos ragidup which I purchased subsequently - and is, I think, the most expensive single textile in my collection. I had been very upset to miss a very beautiful one in a village near to Lake Toba on my trip. However, it remained in the right place - with the family of the weaver (or it did then, it may have 'escaped' since.) I did not even photograph it properly. However, I am posting a photo of it draped around the weaver standing outside her house with the 'male' end showing. (There is a good description of a ulos ragidup in 'Handwoven Textiles of South-east Asia' by Sylvia Fraser-Lu page 178.) It could have been woven in the mid 20th century. The one that I own is at least as fine if not finer than this one. I don't currently have a photo of it - and I am not currently set up for photography quite large pieces such as this.


Attachments:
File comment: Toba Batak ulos ragidup with it's weaver showing the 'male' end.
9703B21_.jpg
9703B21_.jpg [ 52.55 KiB | Viewed 12476 times ]
File comment: tampan - probably natural dyes
tampan_.jpg
tampan_.jpg [ 58.43 KiB | Viewed 12476 times ]

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 02, 2004 4:37 pm 
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I agree with you about the Dong Son influence which always seems to be stronger in Indonesia. Do you have any bibliography on Dong Son? I have alot of individual pieces, but have not seen anything comprehensive in either a book or article.

Bill Hornaday


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 Post subject: Dong Son
PostPosted: Fri Jul 02, 2004 6:20 pm 
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Bill

I don't have a bibliography separated out on Dong son. I think that going forward I will keep a note of references as I look at various books.

As a variation on a theme, have you seen the article in 'Arts of Asia' March-April 2004 in their 'Collectors World' section? It is by Dr Michael C Howard and entitled 'Searching for the Identity of the Bird on Dongson Drums'. He features various Tai textiles from Vietnam in the article. The title of the article is its best summary - otherwise the article itself is pretty complex to summarise.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 02, 2004 7:14 pm 
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Pamela - what a stunner ulos in the picture! We are anxiously awaiting photos of yours. Can you tell what your material is? And perhaps you can make several partial photos and post those? Keep me in mind if you ever decide to deacession yours.

-John


Pamela wrote:
Just to join in the tampan fun I am posting a photo of the only one which I have in my collection. Interesting to see the 'hook' motifs. I would like to think that mine is a genuine one. Very simple and graphic.

I have a collection of Batak ulos which I collected in Sumatra in 1997. I have the most beautiful Toba Batak ulos ragidup which I purchased subsequently - and is, I think, the most expensive single textile in my collection. I had been very upset to miss a very beautiful one in a village near to Lake Toba on my trip. However, it remained in the right place - with the family of the weaver (or it did then, it may have 'escaped' since.) I did not even photograph it properly. However, I am posting a photo of it draped around the weaver standing outside her house with the 'male' end showing. (There is a good description of a ulos ragidup in 'Handwoven Textiles of South-east Asia' by Sylvia Fraser-Lu page 178.) It could have been woven in the mid 20th century. The one that I own is at least as fine if not finer than this one. I don't currently have a photo of it - and I am not currently set up for photography quite large pieces such as this.

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 Post subject: more dongson...
PostPosted: Sat Jul 03, 2004 10:53 pm 
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Thanks one and all for the wonderful pictures of tampan.

It suddenly occured to me that there seems to be a dialectic in island SEAsia between the patola (Indic inluenced textiles) and the dong son influence from southern China through the rest of mainland SEAsia.

It does seem that patola structure wins in larger textiles, mostly to be worn, and the geometric - which seems to survive in smaller, personal textiles, such as tampan, or presentation cloths.

Curiously enough, the boat motif amongst the T'ai is rare, and I have only one textile, and not for the looking. Of course ships are more important in island traditional weaving, but I think as southeast Asia became settled, the notion of soul ships marking life transitions-most importantly death!- seem to lose significance in the valleys of the mainland.

Also, soul ships would conflict with the Buddhistic concept of karma.

Bill, you might try silver polishing cloths on those coins since they are normally very mild and clean only where placed. Just to illuminate the beauty of the coins.

Sandie


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 04, 2004 8:30 pm 
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Sandra-
I have to say I have a different experience of finding boat of souls imagery in Tai textiles. I attach an example in one of my favorite Pha Biangs. I think boat imagery is probably limited to the groups that practice animism. This is from the Tai Daeng. Although I must admit the boat image is certainly not commonly used. It may be an ancient symbol in the process of being forgotten over the generations. I nwonder if some of the Tai were formerly more of a boat people than they presently are.

I have always been of the opinion that the Tai influence came down from China, not only to Southeast Asia mainland, but also to the archepelego. Their are a multitude of similarities between the Tai Daeng weavings and the Sumatran tampans, not only including the boat imagery, but also in basic design borders and decorative fills.

I cannot cite the book, but there is a volume on Indonesian textiles edited by Mattiebelle Gittenger with an article by her on this exact subject. She brings boat imagery from as far as the Dai in Yunnan. Pamela, the boat of souls imagery, especially with tampans, is so spectacular and interesting in design and meaning that it may be a good subject for one of your collections of photos and thoughts. By like token the meaning of the boat imagery is so controversial that it may be interesting to collect each others thoughts. I have always been of the belief (certainly without justification) that the boat is symbolic for the movement of a tribe or a culture as it moves through the life and death of each generation.

You are right, of course, about the seemingly inconsistency about the animist boat of souls concept with karma. Also, there are a substantial number of Tai groups that are still animist (the Tai Daeng).

I abjectly apologize for the poor photos, but the shawl is framed and my digital camera is taking the Boat of Souls to the place of all broken technology.


Attachments:
Pha Biang 9-Boat of Souls -bottom.jpg
Pha Biang 9-Boat of Souls -bottom.jpg [ 65.9 KiB | Viewed 12435 times ]
Pha Biang  9-Boat of Souls-top.jpg
Pha Biang 9-Boat of Souls-top.jpg [ 59.59 KiB | Viewed 12435 times ]
Pha Biang 9-Boat of Souls-almost full.jpg
Pha Biang 9-Boat of Souls-almost full.jpg [ 66.97 KiB | Viewed 12435 times ]
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jul 04, 2004 9:24 pm 
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Bill said:

Quote:
I cannot cite the book, but there is a volume on Indonesian textiles edited by Mattiebelle Gittenger with an article by her on this exact subject. She brings boat imagery from as far as the Dai in Yunnan.


I think the volume you mean Bill, is 'To Speak with Cloth: Studies in Indonesian Textiles' Mattiebelle Gittinger, Editor. She has written the last article in the volume entitled: 'A Reassessment of the Tampan of South Sumatra' and she talks of both Sumatran and T'ai textiles. Page 232 has a detail of a Lao Neua shawl showing a ship design and also a detail of a Dai textile with a ship motif.

Having just been working for the last few weeks on updating my bibliography web pages including new pages for several countries but especially Indonesia and Malaysia (uploaded today) I am more in touch with my books than usual. I have glanced at the article and will make a point of reading it properly.

If I get enough posts of 'boats of souls' I will certainly think of putting together a collection.

I have a feeling that Richard Mook has some tampans in his collection.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 04, 2004 10:42 pm 
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Hi Bill,

Some interesting comments. Unfortunately, your "boats" are actually symbols for Buddhist temples, and the folk inside represent monks. This symbol is also found in the Khmer ikat textiles known as "Pidan", which are used as meditation cloths for the elderly.

Some of the figures (probaby the frogman) are perched upon the mythical "khosa singh", a lion with a trunk of an elephant. This lovely piece is also decorated with the "tree of life" motif as well.

I often wonder about the term "animist" applied to T'ai groups, since almost all are now Theravada Buddhists, save for the few converted to Christianity. Actually, seeing animist symbols here and there is certainly a useful marker for age, and the continuity of forms without meaning.

Also, the T'ai Daeng have incorporated the Mahayanist "third eye" in their textiles, and the T"ai Dam (Black T'ai) some Taoist symbols from China.

Alas, the only "Tai" groups who eventually wandered into islands, are probably the Li on Hainan Island, and some aboriginal groups on Taiwan, but they have a very ancient link. Despite theories to the contrary, the Tai heimat is either in Southern China or Northern Vietnam, and down, not island hoping and up.

Of course, those Dongson symbols traveled down throughout the Isthmus of Kra and on to Sumatra and elsewhere. But their affinity to the Tai is probably due to cultural contact, rather than a close relationship. The exact relation between groups (Tai-Kadai, Austronesian) is best left to the linguists (including me, and Chris) and anthropologists.

I hope you and others find this information useful.

Sandie


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 05, 2004 2:24 am 
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Sandie-
You've been studying this area, and I wouldn't dream of representing myself as an authority in the area. I have always been told that the Tai Daeng were animists with less than 20% buddhist. The only cite I could come up with in a one-minute search was Mary Conners in Lao Textiles and Traditions, page 40, where she describes both the Tai Dam and the Tai Daeng were animists.

Maybe there has been a recent change. Maybe there is a difference between the Tai Daeng in Vietnam and the Tai Daeng in Laos. I know in Laos there are supposed to be only 25,000 Tai Daeng with another 100,000 in Vietnam. Maybe there are more Buddhists in the Vietnam group. If there is a recent change in religion and it happpened fast, that seems like an interesting bit of sociology. Maybe inflence from Vietnam during the war. Any articles on the subject?

I am very interested in the boat as symbol for monk. Where is that common. Can you illustrate with textiles. Where is it other than I think you said Cambodia. Did it come from India or was it an adaptation by the buddhists of the earlier animist imagery. I've been told that Buddhism and animism exist side-by-side in many Buddhist Tai groups. Witness the use of shamans or spirit mediums in those same Tai groups. See Conners, page 50. This a really interesting subject. Would love to hear more about it. I know a bit about the mixture of Christianity and Indian religion in Guatemala, which at times get surreal as Catholicism in the Highlands is like nothing the Pope has ever even dreamed of. Sort of like the Conquistadors putting churches on top of Astec temples.

As to Tais in the Archepelego, it wasn't my intent to say the Tai went that far. I know the Tai-Kadai language doesn't seem to go that far. I did think the textile similarities were the product of the Tais moving south and spreading their culture. I certainly don't know. I was curious that If I remember right that some linguists have said that Tai-kadai may have links to Austonesian languages. I haven't a clue as to what that means. I supposed that meant there was some contact, if not bloodlines. But your linguistics are a complete mystery to me. I just look at the textiles and see similarities.

So don't worry. I will, and have always, left the early movements of groups to the linguists. It is no doubt far more accurate than comparisons of art. I never have gotten past the fact we all came from Africa.

I do think this similarity between the tampans and Tai weaving is extremely interesting, no matter the cause. Also, I seem to remember Patricia Cheesman notice the similarities in Lao Textiles-Ancient Symbols-living art. I'm not looking at it but it is in the first coupole of chapters.

The thought of a linguist on this subject seems a valuable contribution.

Bill


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 Post subject: ...back on shore...
PostPosted: Tue Jul 06, 2004 7:38 pm 
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Hi Bill,

Thanks for your interesting and valuable contribution. Let me try and answer some of the points you raised.

1. Spouse annoyed that I referred to the T'ai Daeng as Buddhists. The majority are, as you point out, animists, as are a number of Lao and Vietnamese T'ai as well. I was at a conference some years back in Bangkok when one speaker was discussing the conversion to Christianity of many hilltribes, and someone pointed out that many groups were also being converted to Buddhism. Ooops. Anyway, Pamela will soon be posting for me a Hmong storycloth which shows a Buddhist temple, and various Hmong groups gaining modernity as they march up to the temple precinct.

2. I don't mean to be facitious, but where are the boats? Anyway, the use of those animal figures, including stags, is a characteristic of the area around Sam Nuea, including the T'ai Khao ("white" T'ai) who are also centered in NWVietnam.

3. Check out the "pidan" on my web page for a more intricate version of the Tai. #11

4. Well folks, be prepared. Since I've taught linguistics, I can be very verbose. Firstly, in the linguistic universe, "T'ai-Kadai" is actually not a language, but a postulated ancestor which is developed by the use of the comparative method. This aspect of historical linguistics derives what is known as a "proto-form" by comparing the words or sounds found in both contemporary languages, and notes by commentators, or changes in spelling for languages which have a written history. A friend from student days, David Solnit, has co-edited two books on Tai-Kadai, but they are actually meant for academics.

However, it seems that T'ai and related tonal languages in SEAsia, developed their tones through a process known as "tonogenesis". In this theory, T'ai-Kadai is, in fact, a branch of the Austronesian language family, in which all languages outside of mainland SEAsian have no tones. Some "scholars" also consider Japanese to be Austronesian. I guess the usefulness of this concept really depends on how far back you want to go (2,000-3000 years?), and your feelings regarding cultural diffusion.

I think that what we look at now is probably more fruitfully considered as examples of cultural diffusion than linguistic affinity.

The process of tonogenesis is still going on, and C. is studying its development in Khmer.

Bill, I hope this answer is helpful.

Sandie


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jul 06, 2004 7:56 pm 
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I was all ready to post this message last night when I discovered that the forum database had been deleted! 24 hours later we are back in business and I am going to (dare) to make my post. Dare in two senses – not risking forum collapse and not risking upsetting both Sandie and Bill!

Yesterday I read Mattiebelle Gittinger’s article in ‘To Speak with Cloth: Studies in Indonesian Textiles. I do not find it possible to skim her writing but it needs careful reading and re-reading. Having read and tried to absorb it I recommend it to you all. Mattiebelle’s own summary at the beginning of the article sums it up well and, I think, picks up points made by both Bill and Sandie. I quote from page 225:

Quote:
“That there existed some sort of cultural continuum between central Thailand and Sumatra toward the end of the first millennium is increasingly recognized. Historians from several disciplines have suggested these relationships which in regard to political and social spheres R.B. Smith summarizes “…it is clear that by the eighth century at least there was a sort of cultural continuum stretching from north to south, between central Thailand and southern Sumatra, or between ‘Dvaravati’ and ‘Srivijaya’” (1979:454) (Note 1: Srivijaya was the kingdom, centered more or less at present-day Palembang, that controlled sea trade through much of Indonesia for some 500 years. It arose in the seventh century and became a great power in the eighth, finally declining at the beginning of the eleventh. Dvaravati was an ancient kingdom in the central part of what we consider Thailand.)

The following essay suggests that additional but contemporary evidence of this continuum resides in a type of cloth known as tampan, once woven in South Sumatra, and in certain textiles made by the T’ai people of the mainland. Parallels in technical structure, design, and function present compelling evidence of a relationship between these textiles. The mainland T’ai material, drawn from areas as dispersed as the Khorat Plateau, Laos, and the Xishuangbanna area of southern Yunnan, China, functions to a great degree in the service of Buddhism. This raises the possibility that the similarity perceived today between the textiles of Sumatra and the mainland exist because of shared roots that reach back to that cultural continuum of the first millennium, when Buddhism was an important factor in Sumatra as well as the mainland. While virtually impossible to prove, the hypothesis explains anomalies in the usage of certain Sumatran textiles and suggests new possibilities for interpreting certain designs."


So Buddhism joining the two areas! The photos are worth looking at - and I can see the shapes in the Lao Neua textiles which we think of as boats in the tampans of Sumatra. One of the key links which the article finds as similar in both areas is that the weavings are used as gifts honouring senior family members or making merit.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jul 06, 2004 11:15 pm 
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Great quote Pamela. In terms of the way the tai influence on Sumatra happened I don't think Sandie, Mattibelle or I have any differences. I gave the impression in my first post that it was a blood link, which I don't believe, but will always look for evidence for.

I find her theory about the contact being through Buddhism interesting. I wish she had discussed this in greater depth. While my example of boats is in Tai Deang textiles, which may or may not be buddhist. Sandie is absolutely right that the vast majority of Tais are buddhists. I wish I had an idea of when the majority of each group became Buddhist. Whether it was fast across all Tai groups or one group at a time over centuries. In any event Tai buddhist groups (Pu Tai) do use the boats with frog men, and the Tai Daeng could have simply gotten the image from another group. In several places in the literature writers state that the Tai groups often grab styles, symbols and designs from other groups.

Bill


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