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PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 3:00 am 
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Location: Chiang Mai, Thailand
This textile is curious to me because it has twining along the fringed ends, which is a Batak tendency, but the Batak do not make songket/supplementary weft patterning like this to my knowledge. Also curious is the use of warp ikat as shown in Detail 3. This piece has a stiff handle and upon close examination appears to have had the threads coated with a shiny substance, perhaps starch? It is all cotton, tho the light-colored stripe separating the borders from the central field feels stiffer and makes me wonder if another plant fiber could have been used here- I cannot tell with a magnifier. I'm not sure how it was used, but the folds and dirt pattern indicate it was folded in quarters lengthwise, with one side exposed, perhaps as a belt or headdress. I suspect it is from Aceh, in northern Sumatra, but cannot find any similar examples in my references. Thoughts anyone?


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Mail-Aceh-Overall-right.jpg
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Mail-Aceh-Detail-3.jpg
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Mail-Aceh-Detail-2.jpg
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Mail-Aceh-Detail-1.jpg
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Last edited by susan stem on Fri Jul 10, 2009 3:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 05, 2009 11:13 am 
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Hi Susan,

I have a textile that is almost identical to the one you have shown. You will find it depicted on page 381 of [i]Legacy in Cloth[/i] (KITLV Press 2009). I have classified it as an Ulu Torus. A detail of the body of the textile is found on page 382. I mention Acehnese inspiration for such textiles on page 74. Variants of such textiles are made by the Toba for Karo consumption, but I think that the one you have, like my own, is a Silindung Valley textile. On page 409 of [i]Legacy[/i], there is a depiction of a modern setelan with rampant supplementary weft. One of the central arguments I make is that the Batak are tending more and more towards this kind of embellishment of their textiles. The pusuk robung type of cloth discused on pages 377-379 can also be found filled with supplementary weft.
The twined edging of your cloth, you are right, is typically Batak.
The Batak starch their yarn with rice starch if it is coarse, or tapioca starch if the yarn is finer.
The foldlines you describe indicate that the cloth was worn over the shoulder. The Batak fold their shouldercloths in half in the length, and then in half once again.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2009 2:01 am 
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Hi Sandra-
Many thanks for your reply! It's really great to have your expert input. Originally, I missed the one in your book, but in looking at your reference, it is indeed like the one I posted, tho brighter. Of course, in my statement that the Batak didn't do 'songket'/supplementary weft, I had overlooked the end panels on 'ragidup', and you were kind enough to not remind me! And now it seems that they also make these 'ulu torus', which are so similar to the 'songket' with metal-wrapped threads from other areas of Sumatra. How very interesting. I'm curious - do you see many of these?

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 Post subject: songket among the Batak
PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2009 4:40 am 
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Hi Susan,

Yes, they really do make alot of these kinds of textiles with supplementary weft. My book, Legacy in Cloth, is an attempt to review the history of Batak textile types and so the reader does not get an impression from the catalogue pages of what is currently the dominant mode in textile production. (Hopefully the reader gets a sense of that from the chapter on modern historical developments...) But it is really striking how the most modern, most expensive cloths are all absolutely covered with supplementary weft and the ikat is scarcely visible if present at all. Those textiles scarcely look Batak anymore! Do you rmember in Robyn Maxwell's book how she talked about a revolution having happened whereby the peoples in contact with trade shifted from warp-oriented to weft-oriented cloths? I think that the Batak are undergoing that shift right now and borrowing their design inspiration from Aceh, Minangkabau and Java. Yours is one of the forerunners, I would say, of the modern ones. I am attaching a picture of my cloth that is like yours. I think that the lighting for the photography made it appear "bright" but it is not, in fact, very bright (the Karo variants area, however, especially when the sun shines on them).


Attachments:
c_sn_1986_44_210w.jpg
c_sn_1986_44_210w.jpg [ 161.01 KiB | Viewed 8555 times ]

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2009 5:30 am 
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VERY interesting Sandra!
I can certainly see how these 'ulu torus' are Batak examples of Robyn's observation (p.158-74 in Textiles of Southeast Asia) about the shift of warp-oriented textiles to weft-oriented. Tho it is curious that that shift often occurs due to the introduction of silk as a weaving material. Do the Batak use silk? My cloth is not silk, but a fine, stiff cotton (and perhaps with additional fibers?). When I first saw this cloth, I wouldn't have thought it Batak had it not had the twined ends. Even then, I had a hard time putting it into the Batak repertoire. It very much appears to have been influenced by the supplementary weft textiles of the Minangkabau, of Pasemas, Aceh, and Java. But it is a striking example of how textile traditions evolve and can even change drastically. It is also funny/odd that they felt compelled to keep some ikat, but it is reduced to a very secondary position in the pattern hierarchy. On mine it is almost not visible, tho on yours it is, and provides a nice lengthwise definition and accents. Your cloth also has lovely, elaborately patterned ends- very nice! Thank you for posting this photo- it helps greatly in clarifying the color and patterns.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2009 7:06 am 
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Hi Susan,

Yes, it is amazing how a textile tradition can transform. I did wrestle with this. What does transformation mean? Just the visual, design aspects? Or does it go deeper? As I went into this issue, I saw that the "transformation" was not recent but was also deeply rooted in history...I began to see even the ragidup as an attempt by the Batak to replicate those amazing Minang textiles of Indian-sari-type design. Because their looms only permit the production of warp-faced textiles, they had to "append" the white end fields in a different way. And so they wove them separately and stitched them on, or they extended the warp, or they replaced the warp. In other cloths, they used various strategies of weft-patterning so that the colour change would show up. Your cloth is just another avenue of experimentation with supplementary weft.

But to go back to your question about silk: silk has been a highly prized commodity for the Batak for centuries. They were exposed to it along the East Coast of Sumatra, an ancient and vibrant trade route between India and China. People of high rank chose these silk cloths to wear on their heads -- and you can see that the Batak textiles with chevron ikat -- the cloth that you posted on this thread is an example of that -- are probably all derived from these coveted, imported silk cloths. Batak weavers are very sensitive to yarn types and fine yarn is highly valued. I do not think that they have ever woven with silk yarn because that is hard to do on a backstrap loom. But now their looms are changing and I think it is only a matter of time before they experiment more successfully with silk.

And to go back to the issue of transformation: the Batak weaving tradition (as perhaps every weaving tradition) is constructed from internal developments and external influences both in technique and design. You could say that transformation is one of the characteristics of the Batak tradition. I also think that you have to look at the way a cloth is constructed to evaluate transformation. Your textile has a typical Batak size, ikat, yarn, and techniques of production. So is there transformation or just a new sup weft pattern?


Attachments:
File comment: This textile has tied-off end fields to get that required colour change in the ends of the cloth, something that can be achieved so much more easily if you have a weft-faced textile and only have to change the colour of your weft.
c_sn_1980_69_177w.jpg
c_sn_1980_69_177w.jpg [ 101.4 KiB | Viewed 8540 times ]
File comment: This pinunsaan has a sewn-in end field in order to achieve the Indian-sari-style layout.
c_sn_1980_37_199w.jpg
c_sn_1980_37_199w.jpg [ 92.85 KiB | Viewed 8540 times ]

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2009 10:01 am 
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I thought that I would add a postscript to this thread. Susan didn't actually draw attention to it here but, in an email, she told me that she has discovered what looked like a similar shoulder cloth in a photo that I had posted on the thread http://www.tribaltextiles.info/communit ... php?t=1296 I will attach a copy of the photo here. Note the shouldercloth that 'Melda is wearing at her grandmother's funeral in Jan 1985. I was curious to see if I could find out some further information about this shouldercloth and emailed Maria, Vera's daughter (and Melda's niece) with yet another of the myriad of questions with which I bombard her!

Maria has been in touch with her Aunt Melda and she responded back to me today:
Quote:
"I have asked Mrs Melda about the ulos, and - as usual we can count on her memory - she said, it was her favorite ulos, got it directly from the weaver; Mrs Tianur! And she asked me to take it from her wardrobe and bring it to her."

Mrs Tianur (Tianur br. Hutabarat) was the mother of Vera and daughter-in-law of Ernestina - married to Ernestina's eldest son, Tahi Samurung L Tobing. Tianur (born in 1925, married in 1942) did all her weaving in the Silindung Valley (North Sumatra) in Huta Sisunggulon one of the villages around the town of Tarutung in the years of namarbaju, usually between about 14-18, before she was married. According to a younger sister, Tianur wove because she enjoyed weaving and was good at it as she was good at most things that she set her hand to. Her skill is demonstrated by the fine supplementary weft in this textile and also in another one in my collection with considerable supplementary weft http://www.tribaltextiles.info/articles ... l/VT15.htm At the time of her namarbaju she was the eldest daughter of a wealthy man. However, later her father spent all his money and was bankrupt. At least one of her younger sisters had to weave from the age of 10 not for pleasure but to help to support the family.

Maria is currently visiting her mother, Vera, in Medan and it may well be that it is from Medan that Melda has asked her to bring the ulos being worn in the funeral photo. Fingers crossed that we might get a photo of it....


Attachments:
File comment: January 1985 - Funeral of Ernestina br. Hutagalung, wife of Theodorik L Tobing. Her eldest and youngest granddaughters - Vera and Imelda - over Ernestina's coffin
ef_vera_melda_w_139.jpg
ef_vera_melda_w_139.jpg [ 73.63 KiB | Viewed 8341 times ]

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 08, 2009 11:17 am 
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Hi all and especially Susan and Pamela,

It has taken me awhile to get back this this, sorry, but here are a few more images that I took in North Sumatra of textiles that would also be called ulu torus by the Batak.


Attachments:
File comment: ulu torus
1-1-22.jpg
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File comment: yet another
1-3-23.jpg
1-3-23.jpg [ 72.14 KiB | Viewed 8261 times ]
File comment: detail of the next ulu torus
80-1-7.jpg
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File comment: ulu torus
80-1-3.jpg
80-1-3.jpg [ 50.26 KiB | Viewed 8261 times ]
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 09, 2009 11:48 am 
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Sandra

Very many thanks indeed for adding to this ulo torus resource on the forum! It was worth me struggling and struggling - without luck - to get to this thread yesterday. The forum was being delivered so slowly to my PC that I just could not get to the thread! Eureka, I made it today! I hope that no one else had slowness access problems to the forum yesterday? I had an email this morning from Susan and she is continuing to suffer from computer problems and lack of on-line contact with the world (for which, read the forum :wink:) but hopes she might be able to get here too!

I find this thread to be at the heart of what I like to see on the forum! First, a 'mystery textile'; next an informative ID; then sight of a similar textile actually being used; followed by more information/examples photographed in field research; reference to a beautiful book with relevant information AND, throughout, lots of sharing from forum members!

On a very personal level it was great for me to get a whole new insight into a textile being worn at a ceremony in one of the photos that I have which support some of the Batak textiles in my collection. I had thought it might be a non-Batak textile being worn as a more fashionable item by a younger family member at the funeral and would probably never have thought to seek further information about it if Susan's initial post and comments to me and then Sandra's very helpful ID had not prompted me to email my Batak family contact. A whole window opened and more light shed on one of the weavers of textiles in my collection - great!!!

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