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 Post subject: Weaving Tools
PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2017 5:44 pm 

Joined: Mon May 24, 2004 7:35 pm
Posts: 177
Location: east coast

Several years ago I bought these two strange objects from a dealer in Kuching, Sarawak, Borneo, because I liked the looks (and sounds) of them. They are cleverly carved of iron wood to make clacking noises when appropriately shaken. The dealer said he had no idea what they were or what they may have been used for. He thought they might be some sort of musical instruments but again had no idea which people in Borneo might gave used them.

The narrow one has a freely sliding wooden block hidden in a cavity under each “tongue”. The hidden block slides back and forth along the length to knock against the ends of the cavity to “sound”. The “tongue” is free at the center end and if pressed down will stop the block from sliding.

The larger one has six (two pairs of three) paddles or “clappers. Each enlarged paddle end is the termination of a thin carved wood rod which acts as a spring. This one sounds when the clapper strikes against the wood beneath it. Shaking it will make it sound. It is fairly heavy. The carved diamond in the center is just ornamental and serves no function.

I continued to be puzzled until I happened to re-read Ling Roth’s old work on looms where I found pictured two such pieces, one of which is almost identical (at least in principle) to my larger one. Roth describes them as “sounding warp beams” for backstrap looms and identifies them as being from Celebes for the narrower and Java for the one like mine. Yet – how did I find them in a Chinese dealer’s shop in Borneo?

Another picture from Roth shows the end of such a flat board mounted as in a fixed frame with the identification of “Borneo – Malay”.

I know of another collector who has a similar piece like my large one and who says he also found it at a dealer’s in Sarawak but in a different city. His has tapered ends like mine so I wonder a bit about how they were actually held in a frame.

From what I can gather watching women weave at the Tun Jugah gallery in Kuching, most of them beat (almost pound) down each weft course fairly vigorously several times which I can imagine would be enough to make the large board with the clappers “sound”. The harder the beating, the louder the clapping.

But no one I know even at the Tun Jugah associates them with Iban weaving. Roth’s “Malay – Borneo” suggests that it was the Malay in Borneo who used it although I know very little about Malay backstrap loom weaving.

And I remain completely in the dark about how my narrow “sounder” worked (if indeed it is although it is identical in length with the large one.) as it has to be shaken end-to-end to sound which I don’t associate with any weaving movement forceful enough to make it sound. Roth suggests that the sound may have something to do with reinforcement of perhaps a spiritual nature.

If any of our readers can throw more light on this subject I would appreciate it very much.

File comment: Two wooden objects purchased in Kuching, Sarawak.
wooden  sounders.jpg
wooden sounders.jpg [ 44.16 KiB | Viewed 2944 times ]
File comment: Two "sounding warp beams" from Roth.
2 sounding warp beams.jpg
2 sounding warp beams.jpg [ 49.64 KiB | Viewed 2944 times ]
File comment: Flat warp beam attachment from Roth.
roth warp beam and attachment.jpg
roth warp beam and attachment.jpg [ 47.25 KiB | Viewed 2944 times ]

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