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PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2015 5:17 am 

Joined: Mon Jun 30, 2008 7:33 am
Posts: 155
Location: Beijing
Forum members may be interested in a draft paper that I recently posted online on

This will be published during 2015 as part of a volume of studies on Southeast Asia by ISEAS in Singapore. I'll add a note on the publication later, when it appears.

The paper examines loom technology and weaving techniques (especially ikat) from an Asia-wide perspective, and looks in particular at the origins of weaving in Island Southeast Asia (ISEA: Indonesia, Philippines and other parts of the archipelago). The conventional narrative for the population of this region is based on the notion of Austronesian-speaking settlers setting out from Taiwan, during the late Neolithic period around 4000 years ago. As I discuss in the paper, this model does not provide a very convincing explanation of the types of looms and techniques used in ISEA. Instead, the origins of these techniques must be sought amongst peoples speaking similar languages on the Asian mainland at around the same time.

This paper began as a "literature review", intended as a preamble to new work that I will publish later. But I was asked to contribute to the ISEAS volume, and submitting this material was the path of least resistance. Though the paper is illustrated with photographs of textiles and pictures of weaving "in the field", there is no substantive new information here, it is all based on published sources. But it is the first time that perspectives from ethnography, archaeology and linguistics have been gathered together in one place and brought to bear on the origins of weaving.

And though I say it myself, the maps I drew are not bad.

Comments are welcome, of course.


File comment: map of the distribution of the ikat technique in East and Southeast Asia
Fig12.jpg [ 95.06 KiB | Viewed 12540 times ]

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