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PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2014 1:06 pm 
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Hi people, thought I'd post up a few crude photos of a nice ( and quite large ) handspun cotton tube-sarung that I acquired in Balauring, northern Lembata Island NTT Indonesia in 1993. Measuring 203cm x 65cm it's very long compared to most. It's unmarked and in superb condition, probably only rarely used for ceremonies etc. The weave and handspun cotton are very coarse & thick, and the dyes appear to be all natural....deep blue/blacks and bright yellows & greens etc. I wonder why it's so long ?....given that the islanders are usually quite short ! Would love to see other Lembata textiles if anyone has pictures. Thanks - Steven.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2014 3:50 pm 
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Steven, Welcome to the forum and thanks for posting this rare sarong from Lembata. Back in the late 70s I spent a week in Balauring staying with the local copra dealer while waiting for a boat to Timor that never came. Ended up sailing to Timor in an outrigger canoe with some Timorese who had come to trade and were on their way back home. Didn't see much cloth though, just hundreds of bags of copra that were brought for sale daily from inland villages. The Chinese copra dealer's house was stacked to the ceilings with them. He was also waiting for the boat, to ship the copra to his contacts in Java. The things I remember most about my stay are the rancid smell of the copra and the thousands of maggots that were crawling all over the floor day and night. You couldn't walk without stepping on them.

Your sarong or KEWATEK NAI TALO is a three panel dowery sarong given by the brides family to the grooms family in reply to the male items given as the bride price (belis). These dowery sarongs are produced especially for this purpose and usually not worn. If they were worn for ceremonies they would be folded down and worn as a two tired sarong so as to fit the wearer. The big question is where this kewatek was produced. I was recently informed by Dr. Ruth Barnes that there was a prohibition on weaving in the Kedang region of Eastern Lembata until world war II and that the only village where textiles were produced in the Kedang district was Kalikur on the coast. The people of Kalikur are not Kedang people apparently but immigrants from outside the Kedang area. I have three old kewatek similar to yours but I got them in Bali and Jakarta. I was told at the time that ones with a plain blue center panel like yours were from Kedang, perhaps woven at Kalikur. A similar type has narrow, light blue stripes in the center panel and I was told that this type was from Pantar. Some people think that these kewatek were produced in the Ili Api area of northwest Lembata for trade to the Kedang district. A definitive answer on just where these kewatek were produced remains elusive.

You acquired your kewatek in situ and I wonder if you got it directly from the weaver and perhaps had a chance to inquire about where she was from and where exactly the textile was produced . This would be most useful information.

Traditionally, dowery cloths had to be hand spun and naturally dyed. Green is a rather rare color and probably an overdye of yellow and indigo. The colors in your textile are very nice. Thank you for sharing this rarely seen textile type. I hope you will share more of your textiles with us. :D

Best regards


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 14, 2014 1:50 pm 
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Thanks MAC for the very informative comments. Unfortunately I can't add much about it's provenance because I didn't acquire the item from the weaver directly. I spent 8 days in Balauring in August 1993, staying at the only losmen in town - Losmen Telaga Sari, taking day trips walking to outlying villages. It was enjoyable for the beautiful scenery and the ambience of the villages, but I failed to find any traditional weavings whatsoever ! Upon hearing of my failed endeavours, the elderly widow ( Ibu Goretti ) who ran the losmen came to me one day with this wonderful textile....offered for sale by "a friend"...needless to say I snapped it up ( especially as it was absurdly inexpensive !!! ). I had a fantastic time at this crumbling old "no frills" losmen, where I was the only guest, and treated like family by Ibu & two young grandsons she was raising there....the old gal and I had happy-hour every afternoon where we'd chat & share a litre or 2 of freshly fermented Tuak ! I visited Balauring again in March 1994 ( but only for 3 days ) and everything was the same...except that no ikat weaving magically materialized !! But definitely fond memories of this little island outpost. Obviously the transport situation had improved since your time there, as there were regular small ferries to & from Kalabahi ( not that I ever saw other westerners for most of the time I was on Adonara, Lembata & Alor )....but your story sounds much more adventurous !! Again, thanks for taking the time to comment, and I will definitely post on the forum some more of my collection soon. Regards - Steven.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 22, 2014 3:42 pm 
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Hi all,

Thought I would post some recent additions to my collection from Lembata Island. One 3 panel piece is similar to Steven's textile that started this post except for the ikat stripes in the center field. The previous owner had no idea where it was from and to be honest I'm not sure either. It could be from Kalikur in Kedang district, Ili Api, or even Pantar Island. No information was available as to when or where it was collected. Any ideas or opinions would be most welcome. It is hand spun thread but perhaps has chemical dyes in the colored stripes which have faded and softened with time. I would guess it is from the 1920-1930s.

Another 3 panel dowry Kewatek is from Lamalera or Atadai in Lembata. It is unusual in having two different patterns in the center field separated by a red stripe making it look as if it is a 4 panel sarong. One motif in the main bands is also unusual and I'm not sure what it is. It has a square in the center with triangles radiating from the sides. Any ideas anyone. I don't remember seeing this motif in other Lamalera dowry sarongs.

The third sarong is perhaps totally unique. It is a 2 panel sarong but the warps are uncut indicating that it is a dowry textile. The threads are hand spun and there are greenish-blue and light pink colors in the stripes. Lamalera is famous as a whaling village and while motifs of whaling boats and manta rays are common in its textiles the sperm whale (koteklema), the most prized catch of all, is strangely absent. Baleo! Baleo! There she blows!! The lamafa harpooner prepares to leap from the bow, adding his body weight to the thrust of his lance. This sarong is unique in having the whaling boat with its crew and a very real depiction of koteklema himself. The two seem about to clash in a headon, life and death Moby Dick battle. Indeed, the whalers do not always win and not a few have lost their lives, their boats pulled under by koteklema. Just last Aug. a boat with a crew of 12 was pulled under by an orca and 8 of the crew were missing. Has anyone else seen a Lamalera textile with motifs of kotelema?

The last sarong is a typical 2 panel ceremonial/dowry sarong from the Ili Api peninsula of lembata. It is of course hand spun, the ikat is clear and the colors deep. It was collected in the late 70s or early 80s and probably dates to 50 or 60 years earlier.

Comments, questions, opinions, further information or posts of other Lembata textiles would be most welcome.

Best regards


Attachments:
Dowry 3 panel Sarong Kewatek Nai Tolu (2).jpg
Dowry 3 panel Sarong Kewatek Nai Tolu (2).jpg [ 481.87 KiB | Viewed 8061 times ]
Lamalera, Lembata 3 panel Dowry Kewatek July 2014.jpg
Lamalera, Lembata 3 panel Dowry Kewatek July 2014.jpg [ 245.25 KiB | Viewed 8061 times ]
Lamalera Whaling, Barcroft photo, Dailymail July 2014.jpg
Lamalera Whaling, Barcroft photo, Dailymail July 2014.jpg [ 92.81 KiB | Viewed 8061 times ]
The Lamafa Harpooner, Dailymail photo July 2014.jpg
The Lamafa Harpooner, Dailymail photo July 2014.jpg [ 86.71 KiB | Viewed 8061 times ]


Last edited by MAC on Tue Jul 22, 2014 4:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 22, 2014 3:56 pm 
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Here are the rest of the photos.

Best regards


Attachments:
Lamalera 2 panel  Dowry Kewatek Nai Rua 66 x 118 cen. Hand spun with natural colors including a green-blue and light pink, uncut warp  July 4, 2014.jpg
Lamalera 2 panel Dowry Kewatek Nai Rua 66 x 118 cen. Hand spun with natural colors including a green-blue and light pink, uncut warp July 4, 2014.jpg [ 327.38 KiB | Viewed 8061 times ]
Lamalera 2 panel Dowry Kewatek Nai Rua  66 x 118 cen. Back of uncut threads  July 4, 2014.jpg
Lamalera 2 panel Dowry Kewatek Nai Rua 66 x 118 cen. Back of uncut threads July 4, 2014.jpg [ 385.62 KiB | Viewed 8061 times ]
Lamalera 2 panel Dowry Kewatek 66 x 118 Up July 4, 2014 (2).jpg
Lamalera 2 panel Dowry Kewatek 66 x 118 Up July 4, 2014 (2).jpg [ 220.91 KiB | Viewed 8061 times ]
Lamalera 2 panel Dowry Kewatek 66 x 118 cen. Up of hand spun center July 4, 2014 (2).jpg
Lamalera 2 panel Dowry Kewatek 66 x 118 cen. Up of hand spun center July 4, 2014 (2).jpg [ 279.06 KiB | Viewed 8061 times ]
Lembata 2 panel Ili Api Kewatek NICE LIGHT BLUE AND DEEP INDIGO Clear Ikat, early 20th C. (2).jpg
Lembata 2 panel Ili Api Kewatek NICE LIGHT BLUE AND DEEP INDIGO Clear Ikat, early 20th C. (2).jpg [ 85.71 KiB | Viewed 8061 times ]
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 23, 2014 11:06 am 
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Hi Mac,

So you are the mystery buyer! Congratulations! I had my eye on three of those, but had too many doubts to go ahead. I was most interested in the first one, what you call "Dowry 3 panel Sarong Kewatek Nai Tolu (2).jpg" and thought that it was an Alor, probably a little younger than you indicate, like from the 1970s or 1980s as it is so similar to what I saw worn on the island in 1981 and what I see on my slides from that time. Indeed, chemical dyes in those days were often mixed in with vegetable dyes - the main reason why I bought almost nothing there at the time. (Live an learn.) As for the other possible provenance, I do not think that it is a Lembata, neither from Ili Api, nor from Kailikur as the center field would most likely have been plain. Pantar is impossible to discount because there is a fair amount of intermarriage, but the styling and coloration are more typical for Alor - at least in my view. Anyhow, I think you did very well acquiring it. If I had not been on a bit of a splurge lately you would have had more competition!

Enjoy,
Peter

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 23, 2014 2:07 pm 
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Peter,

Where on Alor or by what group do you think this kewatek was made? There aren't many groups that traditionally did ikat on Alor and many of the non-weaving groups traded/trade with Kalikur in Kedang and Ili Api for their textiles. I visited Alor several times back in the late 70s and collected several late 19th or very early 20th C., 3 panel kewatek fatola sarongs. They all came from the village of Alor Kecil and have patolu patterns (the pan leaf, elephants etc.) in the central panel. I think I bought a sarong on Pulau Buaya just off the coast but the people who live on the small offshore islands are probably originally from the Sebanjar and Alor Kecil area. The other type of sarong produced in the Alor Kecil area is the 2 panel tanapi (like #130 on your site) with lots of fine stripes, some with simple ikat patterns in the central area and a major band of ikat on either end but these are not really like this 3 panel sarong. I have seen sarongs similar to this 3 panel piece that were said to have been made on Ternate or Pura islands so maybe this piece was made there. There was so much trading throughout these islands that knowing what was made where is difficult. Where pieces were collected is more often known but that doesn't necessarily mean they were made where they were found. Any further info you could provide on the types of sarongs produced at Kalikur in the Kedang district of Lembata, on Pantar or in the Boleng area of Adonara would be welcome.


Best regards


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 23, 2014 4:35 pm 
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Dear Mac,
I cannot identify any particular weaving group on Alor, my knowledge of the island is too limited for that. I just remember seeing a similar type of sarong in the Kalabi area, in Moru on the other side of the bay and at some markets in other coastal villages that we went to. I have seen ikat work done indeed in Alor Kecil, and on the Kabola peninsula, albeit in the Adang speaking part, and in a village on the shore of Alor just opposite Buaya. Oddly, one of the women I saw weaving in Alor Kecial wore a sarong that was unmistakably Sikka. So yes, there was and probably still is a lot of exchange of patterns which makes it hard to pin down anything with certainty. I saw no weaving at all on Pantar, nor on Pura, and no pieces I wanted to buy at the time.

As for Kedang, the mental template that I carry in my head is the sarong, wela, depicted in Barnes's book on the Vatter collection, Abb. 184., with the wide, seemingly plain, but actually pinstriped midfield. Note that in this piece, which in 1929 Vatter considered recently made, the weaver already used imported yarn for the accent stripes. You are absolutely right about the fact that often all we know is where a piece was acquired. This was true already in the early 1900s. One of Vatter's finer Lembata pieces was bought on Adonara. On Tanimbar, Van Vuuren tells us, where until the mid 1800s many people wore either nothing at all or just a small piece of barkcloth if they felt uppity, weaving was introduced so late that in the later half of the 1800s the better positioned got themselves cloths from Kisar, Timor, or even the Minahasa. As a friend of mine says, often all you know that it is a piece made somewhere in the Indonesian isles, and that you love what it tells you.

Once again, congrats on your new acquisitions.

Peter

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PUSAKA COLLECTION: ONLINE MUSEUM OF TRADITIONAL INDONESIAN IKAT TEXTILES


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2014 8:10 pm 
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Hi All,

To enrich this very informative thread, here is (what I believe to be) a somewhat older Kedang wela.

Attachment:
File comment: Pusaka Collection #025
ikat_new_025.jpg
ikat_new_025.jpg [ 119.51 KiB | Viewed 7915 times ]


Going by its condition (two tiny holes, a few millimeters across, and other signs of wear not to the point of damage - this on a ceremonial sarong which would have been used sparingly) I estimate it to be from 1940-1950 or thereabouts. Let's call it 'late colonial'.

Enjoy,
Peter

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 27, 2014 1:36 am 
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Peter,

Thanks for adding to this post. You use the term WELA to describe this sarong. Is that term (name) from the Kedang language? I think the Kedang language and people are not from the Lamaholot group so their name for sarong would be different. Ruth Barnes says there was a prohibition on weaving in Kedang until some time after WW ll when weaving was revived. I believe, however, that the type of textile now being woven is a white cloth and quite different from your sarong.

In a recent personal communication with Dr. Barnes she told me the only place that weaving was done before the war in Kedang was at Kalikur. She said the people of Kalikur were not Kedang people but immigrants. Although she did not say where they were from, I wonder if they are Lamaholot people in which case they may not speak Kedang and may use the name KEWATEK for sarong. I am just speculating and field research in Kalikur would be necessary to determine where these people came from, what language they speak and what name they use for a skirt cloth.

I don't have Dr. Barnes' book on the Vatter collection so am not familiar with the sarong of which you speak (wela). I wonder if it would be a copyright problem if you would be so kind as to scan and post the photo and information on the textile collected by Vatter. I have a few dowery sarongs from the late 19th or early 20th C. that are similar to the piece you just posted. Some have a plain indigo center panel and were said to be from Kedang and others have narrow, light blue stripes in the center and were said to be from Adonara. Again, however, this information may tell us where they were collected but perhaps not where they were produced.

Are all of the threads in your sarong hand spun? Do you think the colors in the stripes are natural? Thanks again for posting this lovely sarong.

Best regards


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 27, 2014 11:33 am 
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Hi Mac, Steve, and others,

A good thing that Steve started this thread as it leads us to investigate this rather neglected area. There is very little literature on it!

According to Hamilton, who depicts a Kedang bridewealth sarong in Gift of the Cotton Maiden (Fig. 8-23), the people in Kalikur are Muslim immigrants, who may well be Macassarese or what have you. The term wela is used by Barnes in her book on the Vatter collection. Unfortunately, while the book is lavishly illustrated, she has chosen to depict the one Kedang sarong on tiny format. Between her text and Hamilton, so far the only published sources I have on Kedang textiles, a picture emerges:

1. Midfield for Kedang bridewealth sarong may not be mean, morinda, but must be indigo.
2. As there was a taboo on weaving, the ikat work may have been done by Muslims in Kalikur.
3. Certain is that weavers in Ili Api made ikat bridewealths sarongs specifically intended for 'export' to Kedang, with the indigo midfield.
4. The latter may also have been exported to Alor, where rather catholic attitudes towards what is and is not appropriate as belis prevailed.
5. Kedang bridewealth sarongs may at one time have been common, but very few have ever been published, and old ones are probably very rare.
6. Vatter mentioned narrow yellow stripes, so does Hamilton, who says they were done in silk. I have not investigated the nature of the stripes on my piece, but I do notice very fine yellow thread in two different shades.
7. Barnes remarks that the fine commercial thread used for the yellow accent stripes has been twined (two threads making one thicker one), whereas the handspun threads in the rest of the cloth have not been twined. The same is the case on my piece.

Below is a photo from the Barnes/Vatter book. Not much in terms of detail, but it does show a cloth with similar overall design.


Best wishes,
Peter

Attachment:
File comment: Photo of Kedang sarong in Barnes's book on Vatter collection.
tmp.jpg
tmp.jpg [ 122.85 KiB | Viewed 7906 times ]

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PUSAKA COLLECTION: ONLINE MUSEUM OF TRADITIONAL INDONESIAN IKAT TEXTILES


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 02, 2014 10:58 am 
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MAC & Peter, have to agree that MAC's first picture looks very much like a west Alor piece....the diamond-shaped motifs representing "pelinta / starfish" are strikingly similar to those from Uma Pura island and other west Alor cloths - such as this one of mine.
Attachment:
Q2A.JPG
Q2A.JPG [ 99.4 KiB | Viewed 7866 times ]
Also would like to add a pertinant picture from my Lembata travels.....these two ladies in traditional attire in Balauring town, at a ceremony welcoming a visiting provincial official from Kupang in 1993 - I noticed the slightly striped indigo midfield on their 3-panel shawls, and how different these are compared to the kewatek that they are wearing as sarungs (much less indigo used)....which show some definite similarities to MAC's last Ili Api 2 panel kewatek.
Attachment:
Alor Island 1993.jpg
Alor Island 1993.jpg [ 76.63 KiB | Viewed 7866 times ]
. Yes this thread is turning out to be really interesting and especially informative for a newcomer like myself...many thanks. Regards - Steven.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 16, 2014 8:44 am 
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I just got back from a trip to Lembata, including the Kedang area, so I will put my 2c worth in on this interesting thread...

I landed at Kekar on the coast, and found weavers there who are quite active, making sarongs with handspun thread and commercial colours. The market is mainly for wedding gift sarongs, as far as I can tell, since the gift-exchange customs that MAC mentions continue. Motifs are mainly rather simple diamonds-in-boxes and the like, in other words typical Lembata motifs.

I took a trip inland and found plenty of sarongs, but no weaving (at least in the places I visited), apart from one old woman who was mounting ikat on the loom, who said she was from the coast (Buriwutung). She was also weaving for the local market. At the inland villages I found two kinds of sarongs:
- Ili Api sarongs (the standard blue and red varieties)
- Kedang sarongs

The Kedang sarongs were mostly dark blue with yellow and green stripes. The more recently made sarongs (like the one in the photo I am posting, which was a sarong in an adat house (lopo) near to Hingalamemengi) have rather bright yellow and green bands. The older sarongs have rather more subdued bands of yellow and blue or green. I found one old 3-panel sarong (pic attached) in a home in the village of Panama. The owner said it was woven by his great grandmother. I can't rule that out, but I think it is more likely that it was woven on the coast nearby.

As mentioned, the ikat in these Kedang pieces is different from Ili Api, bluish-grey in tone and with different motifs.


Attachments:
File comment: old 3-panel sarong, perhaps made around 1920, handspun cotton, ikat and narrow bands of commercial silk in yellow and pale blue
KT174-1.jpg
KT174-1.jpg [ 125.53 KiB | Viewed 7646 times ]
File comment: sarong (perhaps 20-30 years old) in a house near Hingalamemengi, Kedang region of Lembata
LMH-1004.jpg
LMH-1004.jpg [ 150.7 KiB | Viewed 7646 times ]

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 16, 2014 11:10 am 
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Chris, Welcome back and thanks for posting about your trip. Looks like it was a good one. I wonder if the commercial silk threads in the old sarong you bought are plied, as Peter mentioned earlier in this post, to make them thicker and more the size of the hand spun cotton threads. I would guess they are chemically dyed and the softer colors of older pieces would probably be due to fading from use and sunlight and they may have been brighter when new. You mentioned in your email to me from Bali that you thought one of my sarongs was definitely from Pantar. Did you mean the first, three panel sarong I posted above with the narrow ikat dash bands in the center or one of the photos I sent you before your trip?

You said you landed at Kekar on the coast of Kedang. Do you have a map of Kedang or could you tell us where Kekar is? Would it be near Kalikur or Balauring? The sarong Peter posted from Vatter's book looks like the type produced in Ili Api for trade to Kedang and seems similar to the one worn by a woman in Ili Api that you sent me a photo of by email. It also looks similar to the two sarongs worn over the shoulders of the two women in Balauring in the photo that Steven posted. Would you say this is the type you saw and photographed being worn in Ili Api and thought was made especially for export to Kedang?

Both Peter and Steven thought the first three panel sarong I posted was from West Alor but I feel the simple bands of ikat dashes in the center field with border stripes are different from the last sarong Steven posted which has more elaborate saw tooth and other ikat bands in red and blue alternating with the simple dashes which are double rows, again with red and blue and without border stripes. I also think Steven's sarong is a two panel piece rather than the three panels of mine. The only 3 panel sarongs I saw in West Alor were called kewatek fatola and had overall patola motifs in the center panel, like Lamalera sarongs, rather than thin bands of dashes. The orgin of my 3 panel sarong, I feel, is still uncertain.

Thanks again Chris for giving us in situ information on Kedang and posting your lovely sarong. Every piece of the puzzle makes the picture clearer.

Best regards


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 16, 2014 11:21 am 
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Dear Chris and Mac,
I am now in Lisbon to oversee the installation of my exhibition Woven Languages and rather preoccupied. For now just want to express my admiration for the 1920s Kedang sarong. Very nice detailing!

Will return to this subject soon.
Best wishes,
Peter

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PUSAKA COLLECTION: ONLINE MUSEUM OF TRADITIONAL INDONESIAN IKAT TEXTILES


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