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 Post subject: Ketungau pua
PostPosted: Mon Sep 19, 2011 12:54 pm 
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I am posting two Ketungau pua from Indonesia's Kalimantan, Borneo that I was very fortunate to acquire recently. The Ibanic weavers of Kalimantan are related through ancestry to the vastly more numerous Iban of Malaysia's Sarawak, Borneo and share a very similar weaving heritage but with distinct differences. Kalimantan pua are much more rare than those from the Iban of Sarawak and outstanding Kalimantan pua are very difficult to find especially in good condition. These I believe to be among the exceptional class.


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File comment: 72" x 35.25". Warp face Ketungau pua. Handspun cotton, native dyes. Very rich color. Appears never to have been used. From a 1910 collection. "Pua kumbu tua'" translating as ikat pua spirit pattern. Age possibly mid late 1800's.
ketungau pua 'spirits'.jpg
ketungau pua 'spirits'.jpg [ 132.93 KiB | Viewed 5023 times ]
File comment: 75.25" x 40". Ikat, cotton, warp face weave. Commercial threads and some native dyes. Unusual in having some warp theads in triples rather than the nearly unbiquitious double over-under weave. Blue highlights and also unusual Kantu' type triang
ketungau pua 'omen birds'.jpg
ketungau pua 'omen birds'.jpg [ 106.84 KiB | Viewed 5023 times ]

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Last edited by john on Sat Sep 24, 2011 2:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 23, 2011 9:14 pm 
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John

These pua are absolutely stunning! I am amazed at the age of the 'spirit' pua. It look so freshly dyed and woven. It has so much vitality. Wonderful when a textile can keep such freshness despite the Borneo climate.

Both textiles are indeed fine and exceptional. You are fortunate to have custody of them. As ever one would love to know the stories of their origin.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 23, 2011 10:08 pm 
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Pamela wrote:
John

These pua are absolutely stunning! I am amazed at the age of the 'spirit' pua. It look so freshly dyed and woven. It has so much vitality. Wonderful when a textile can keep such freshness despite the Borneo climate.

Both textiles are indeed fine and exceptional. You are fortunate to have custody of them. As ever one would love to know the stories of their origin.


Hi Pamela - I'm glad you also find the "spirit" pua so wonderful. It preserved its color and condition because it came from a 1910 Dutch collection. My thought is that it was given as a gift to some high Dutch Government official in what is now Kalimantan sometime prior to 1910 and just after it had been woven and quickly found its way into the Dutch collection. As always with these pieces, I am frustrated at the lack of provenance for them.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 25, 2011 6:03 pm 
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John,

Thank you for including the dimensions of the remarkable piece in the Description of the image.

I hope others will do the same.

Larry


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2011 12:28 pm 
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I agree with you Larry. It is the only way at present that we can build up a more comprehensive knowledge of these weavings.

Are you a pua collector also?

-John



larry wrote:
John,

Thank you for including the dimensions of the remarkable piece in the Description of the image.

I hope others will do the same.

Larry

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 02, 2011 11:42 am 
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Hi John,

No, I am not a collector of such.

My wish would be that description field for posting images also included a prompt to post dimensions.

Hark, Hark! :wink:

Larry


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 02, 2011 6:42 pm 
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Hi Larry,

Sorry, I hear your concern that dimensions of textiles are posted! However, the forum is based on a phpBB forum and I don't think that your request is likely to rate highly on their list of amendments to make to the structure of the forum. We textile obsessives are a small minority!

Best

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 13, 2011 2:25 am 
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Hi John, Great pua especially the first one. A rare find. I wonder what tells you that it is a Ketungau pua. Could you give us some characteristics that define Ketungau textiles?

Also I wonder about the translation of "Pua Kumbu Tua". I thought kumbu was the name for the morinda tree and the red color produced from its roots. Tua in Indonesian, and perhaps in Ibanic languages which have many words that are similar to Malay-Indonesian, means old I believe. Pua kumbu tua sounds to me like "Old Red Pua".

What in the second pua tells you it is a Kantu pua? They are both fine textiles and great additions to your wonderful collection.

Best regards, MAC


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 14, 2011 5:14 pm 
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Hi Mac - I appreciate your comments and they have set me thinking for which I am grateful. The confusion arose from my omitting the Iban glottal stop. So I must apologize and learn a lesson for the future.

Properly I should have spelt it - pua’ kumbu’ tua’ - following the Iban. To the Iban, pua' is a blanket or such, kumbu means to cover as with a blanket while kumbu’ means a tie–dyed ritual blanket hence the pua’ kumbu’. Some say that the derivation is through the act of “covering” the warp threads with ties prior to dyeing. Also in Iban – tua’ – means a kind of guiding spirit that can appear in dreams. I am going out on a limb here and assuming this would all hold for the Ketungau although I have no knowledge of that dialect except it probably shares much with the Iban language. It is true that tua in Indonesian (and Malay) means old (and tuah means spirit while in Iban tuah can mean such as good fortune).

The Iban call the Morinda Citrifolia plant from which the deep red is derived (with proper mordenting) – enkudu. The Iban can call a pua’ dyed to this deep rich color – pua’ embun. But the pua’ I showed are not these. Red in Iban has many words of which mansau e.g., is one but kumbu (or kombo or ..) does not seem to be one of them.

You asked what makes these two Ketungau.

Firstly, although it is sort of begging the question, it is partly elimination. The two pieces most clearly look to me like ones I am familiar with from Kalimantan Barat rather than Sarawak. That is, not Iban.

The Kalimantan weavers of these ritual cloths are related to the Iban through common ancestors and the major Kalimantan Ibanic groups known to me are the Kantu’, the Mualang and the Ketungau. I have to say that “Ketungau” is sort of a catch-all name embracing several different peoples of the Ketungau river system and some no doubt properly feel that it is incorrect to so use it. But until we can make much finer differentiations, I use it in the broad fashion. Kantu' pieces are very much rarer than Iban pieces and Mualang and Ketungau rarer than Kantu'. All my pieces come to me through dealers with all the provenance problems one can expect. For example, the Tropenmuseum has several Kalimantan pieces that I am convinced are inappropriately attributed.

So now, of Kalimantan weavers, these two pua clearly do not look Kantu’. (Perhaps you could see my little article in Arts of Asia called, “Jewels of the Kantu’” for examples and style comments.) That sort of leaves the Ketungau and the Mualang as major groups although the Desa Dayak could be a sort of remote possibility. And they don’t look like the few Mualang pua' I have or seen in other collections and sources knowing that it is never wise to generalize from small samples. However, the sophistication of the first piece especially is extremely high in technique, coloring, and design with all that entails of the weaver and her people.

So, in comparing the pieces with what I am reasonably sure are Mualang and Kantu', I fall back on that rickety crutch – they mostly resemble the (admittedly few) Ketungau pieces I have or know of.

Also something I don’t see. The finest bundled threads prior to tying of some Mualang weavings I have noted are 4 wide rather than the practically ubiquitous 6 wide elsewhere. In such a fine weaving as I show, I would sort of expect to find the 4 wide if Mualang which I don’t. Admittedly weak and not much stylistic help I admit.

At some point I hope to do a little article on the weavings of the Mualang and Ketungau if I can acquire or locate enough pieces with sufficiently secure attributions to make some supportable generalizations.

However, there are so few Mualang and Ketungau pua' I know of that I am not very sanguine of building any extensive collections for comparisons.

That’s the best I can do at this point but I would certainly appreciate any thoughts, comments, contrary opinions, etc., others can provide.

As for the second pua', I only mentioned that the "triangle" type motifs iin the borders are reminiscent of Kantu' pua'. The resolution in the post is not high enough to see them clearly. I believe the piece is Ketungau.

Thanks again Mac.

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