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 Post subject: indonesian headcloth ?!
PostPosted: Mon Aug 22, 2005 9:46 am 
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Joined: Tue Nov 23, 2004 12:37 pm
Posts: 42
Location: Austria / Europe
hello and good morning from austria,

even if I´m a member now for a while I haven´t posted anything yet; even if there are quite some thing to ask and share.

so due to my birthday I thought it might be a good time to start.

I recently aquired some Indoesian textiles (toraja singa and palembang tengkuluk). The third one is a bit of a mystery for me.
Called to be from South Sumatra (don´t believe that) and to be a cloth for wrapping skulls (that´s what the seller said).

Measuring 57 / 52 cm (apr. 22,8 / 20,8 inch) it is (rather was) a dark blue cotton weaving 2 rows (yellow and white) cotton stitches at the end and framed by a red cotton border (sewn onto by a light red yarn which i doubt to be original - no detail enclosed).
The dark blue color is heavily faded/vanished and remains to be an overall light blue with just some dark fields (the pics have a green touch which the textile don´t have at all - experienced some difficulties when taking the pictures).
The design reminds me to some particular precolumbian textiles (sun faces from the early nasca period)...
Most of the embroidery had been done with a white yarn - but some crosses, fillings and other parts have been done by a brown/orange or ochre and light sand colored yarns.

Two pictures I have marked with a purple colored drawing - indicating the areas where the old original embroidery has been rather bad replaced with a new embroidery (different kind of yarn and lighter white).
More or less underneath it (or rather aside) you can see dark blue designs (probably the place from the old embroidery and due to the decolorizing from the light stayed dark blue); why this parts have been replaced is also a question.
At closer inspection you can see even more parts "restored" - so an overall guess would be some 50% of the embroidery had been redone.

The textile itself looks quite old to me - for sure no new touristic textile.
But what was it?
Is it coming from Indonesia and if from which part of?
What was the use of it?

Any suggestions?

Please let me know if you need any more information and/or pictures.

I hope I didn´t make too many grammar mistakes :)

thanks very much in advance
udo.gangl / austria / europe


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 Post subject: Sumatran Textile
PostPosted: Wed Aug 24, 2005 2:32 am 
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Joined: Wed Jul 02, 2003 9:33 pm
Posts: 74
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA
Hello,

I was able to find some info on this textile from the book: "TEXTILES OF SOUTHEAST ASIA, Tradition, Trade, and Transformation" by Robyn Maxwell. If you don't have this book in your library of Indonesian Textiles, then you must get it immediately. I use this reference all of the time and nearly always find the info I need, even with the most obscure Southeast Asian tribal textiles. You can find the detailed description on page 202-203 (image 291). The short version:

Abung people, Kota Bumi District, South Sumatra, Indonesia.
Bark-cloth, cotton, silk, gold metallic thread, mirror pieces, embroidery.
Probably used as a ceremonial sitting mat. Definitely has a Indian connection and style.

Thanks Pamela for bringing this interesting textile to my attention.
Regards,
Mark


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Mark Johnson

http://www.markajohnson.com
Mark A. Johnson Tribal Art
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 Post subject: Give Sumatra a try...
PostPosted: Wed Aug 24, 2005 3:36 am 
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Joined: Mon Jun 30, 2003 6:34 pm
Posts: 393
Location: Chiang Mai, Thailand
Greetings and Happy Birthday! Your contribution to the Forum is most welcome. It is a very interesting textile and surprisingly, not all that far off from the information you had been given by your source. If you have a copy of Robyn Maxwell's Textiles of Southeast Asia: Tradition, Trade and Transformation, you need to see page 202; if not, then you may want to get a copy. It shows a more elaborate version of your textile in figure 291, complete with red border. The description is:

Quote:
"...ceremonial cloth, Abung people (?), Kota Bumi district, south Sumatra, Indonesia, bark-cloth, cotton, silk, dyes, gold metallic thread, mirror pieces, embroidery 65.0 x 65.0 cm

(she compares it with a sitting mat from the same area in fig.290)...Both are comparatively rare objects, and although both are from Lampung, they stand apart from the many other kinds of textiles made in that region. Only a small number of other examples of these objects have been noted, and almost no information about their exact origins or social functions has been recorded. The small embroidered square has been worked on handspun indigo-dyed cotton and its dimensions are similar to the tampan of the Paminggir, and to the ceremonial food and gift covers of the Malay peoples of east Sumatra and Malaysia. ... Both objects retain certain ancient elements -- matting, bark-cloth, shells, beads and spiral motifs. ...However, on both these textiles the stark central motif with stupa-like projections and angular lines is closer to the architectural mandala of the Indianized Southeast Asian world. Insects, butterflies and stylized birds are evident as minor motifs on both textiles."



Interestingly, on the following page is a Tausug headcloth (pis siyabit) from the Philippines, which was being discussed on a previous thread of this forum. They both share the square format, similar size (under a meter square, but more than half a meter), and a mandala-inspired central design.

Regarding the intended use of your textile, it could have been a headcloth, as square cloths of this size are used by other groups in this part of Sumatra, but this information from the Periplus guidebook on Sumatra, about the Abung people, could give some relevance to the claim of headhunter use:

[/quote]"The Lampung region at Sumatra's southern tip contains several ethnic groups with different cultural histories... one of the most numerous indigenous peoples of this region, the Abung, say they originated in the mountains to the west where, in the 15th century, they maintained a megalithic culture similar to that of Nias. Headhunting and human sacrifice brought them into conflict with neighboring peoples, especially lowland Malays, who finally drove them into their current setting around 1450.

Abung society is composed of numerous patrilineal clans. Each clan maintains a separate house, occupied most of the time by only a few elderly people. Villages contain as many as 3,000 people and 120 clan houses, but working adults and children spend most of their time in samll seasonal settlements outside the village, maintaining their swidden gardens. They return to the village for initiation ceremonies or other special events. Initiations usher men into a series of ranks that indicate their wealth. Formerly, headhunting was a precondition for the highest rank, a nd initiates to this rank were enthroned on a dolmen of stone. Although the Dutch attempted to stop their headhunting and human sacrifices, the Abung continued these practices surreptitiously into the 19th century.

Like all their neighbors in the region, the Abung are now Muslims. In their modern version of initiation rites, called papadon, dancing substitutes for headhunting, and buffalo is sacrificed instead of a human."

Other information from the same source: "Only one in ten of Lampung's present inhabitants is descended from the original population, which comprised three distinct groups: the Orang Abung or mountain people who practiced headhunting and remained in isolation until the 19th century...

The traditional culture of Lampung reflects indigenous beliefs overlain by Hindu-Buddhistic and Islamic influences. A strong megalithic tradition continued until fairly recent times. "

[/quote]

From what I know of the area and its textiles, this all fits: the square format is used for headcloths, as well as ritual textiles such as tampan and other coverings for gift offerings; the naive quality of the design seems appropriate to a more remote people, tho the mandala design shows Indian influence derived from trade in the region (pepper was a hugely-traded commodity). Whether your textile was used for "wrapping skulls" is difficult to know from the information I've found, but it's a possibility, given the group's predilections. That claim may also have been made to enhance the textile's saleability, as a good story always does.

Nice piece! Many thanks for sharing it with us. Hope this helps, but sorry that I cannot at this time reproduce the images from the book for you to see.

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Susan Stem

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


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Aug 24, 2005 3:47 am 
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Joined: Mon Jun 30, 2003 6:34 pm
Posts: 393
Location: Chiang Mai, Thailand
Mark- You beat me to it! Am glad you posted the photo, but I think that perhaps your description was for the other piece Robyn was comparing this one to, figure 290.

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Susan Stem

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


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Aug 24, 2005 7:55 am 
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Joined: Tue Nov 23, 2004 12:37 pm
Posts: 42
Location: Austria / Europe
hello and thanks to everyone,

wow - south sumatra is correct - wouldn´t have thought that at all.

The picture which Mark is showing seems to be something like this - only the description makes me a bit :?:
"Bark-cloth, cotton, silk, gold metallic thread, mirror pieces, embroidery" - mine only got the cotton hand woven ground and the embroidery.

I definatley will get a copy of this book !

Last question(s): first - regarding the amount of newly re-embroidered/restored parts of the textile (as i said my guess is some good 50 % of the embroidery had been redone) - it does effect the value of a textile but in which amount as it seems to be a quite rare one?
second - not quite sure wether it´s okay to ask or not but which value would you think of this piece?

so thanks a lot again
cheers
udo

ps. as i just got informed about the "money topic" I want to excuse for putting it up here, than rather in the "shop section".
As I´m not too used with all the rules in here I won´t do it so officially again.
Besides this fact if somebody could tell me something about it please do it privatly with a message or email to me.
Sorry again :oops:


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 Post subject: Sumatran Textile
PostPosted: Wed Aug 24, 2005 2:04 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jul 02, 2003 9:33 pm
Posts: 74
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA
Hello,
The brief description for the related textile I posted is the correct one, as written in the book, although the part about its use was not clear to me. The author compared it to a food/gift covering, but did not say it was used as such and then went on to say #290 may have been used as a mat. I have been told that Tampan and other related looking textiles can be used as ceremonial sitting mats for important guests, as well as gift/food coverings, and just assumed that the author was referring to that as well. My apologies for the mis-statement. It does remind me of the headwraps found in other Southeast Asian culture and I wonder if it was used in that way.

The materials used are for the textile posted and not the earlier one that Udo posted, just to be clear. It is obvious it is a similar and related textile, but likely to be of an earlier generation. Udo's example looks relatively late and in some ways a copy of the earlier style, considering that it is much less complex in workmanship and materials. It is possible that later examples were not made with as much attention to detail and without the added decorations.

In my experience, a small amount of restoration, like replacing a few missing shells, mica chips, or beads is no big deal. Carefully added patches and backing a textile with lots of holes or damage is acceptable. However, re-adding in a considerable amount of embroidery is probably crossing over the line. In addition, the quality of the repairs will also determine final market value. If the textile is exceptionally rare and valuable it is possible to extend the amount of acceptable repairs.

Regards,
Mark

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Mark Johnson

http://www.markajohnson.com
Mark A. Johnson Tribal Art


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Aug 24, 2005 5:19 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jun 29, 2003 1:42 pm
Posts: 1989
Location: Canterbury, UK
Dear All

What a very interesting thread this has become! I am travelling, it is very late - or rather very early in the morning - and I must try and finish my work and get to bed. I look forward to a little more time to read and absorb the thread properly (especially when I am using a computer with a larger screen!)

The Robyn Maxwell book has been updated and republished recently and with lots more colour photos - certainly a must for a collector's library!

Yes, we try to avoid specific comments about value of particular items on the forum. However, thanks very much Mark for your helpful general comments about how the value of a textile may be affected by repairs and alterations. I think that many of us will have found your thoughts helpful. So, Udo, you are forgiven as your unwary question generated a worthwhile reply!

This is very much an information forum - we have collectors and dealers who are members as well as people visiting for general information. I want to try and keep it non-commercial, at least outside the main body of the forum. Nevertheless, we are all, of course, human and very aware of the importance of value and the difficulty in quantifying it.

Best wishes,

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Pamela

http://www.tribaltextiles.info
on-line tribal textiles resource


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