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PostPosted: Wed Oct 05, 2011 12:40 pm 
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I recently add to my collection of Indonesia textile a major piece: a palepai (important ritual textile from Lampung - Indonesia). According to Mattiebelle Gittinger, the great specialist of the textiles from Lampung, the different palepai can be classified in different classes. One of these classes is an exception to the classification system, since it utilizes elements both in both sacred and mundane designs. She writes in 1979: There are less than six of these textiles in existence, most of them in museums.
I was able to locate 4 of them:
Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam 1969-4
Dallas Museum of Art 1983.79
Völkerkunde Museum, St Gallen, FL 200
Völkerkunde Museum der Universität Zürich, ex collection Alfred Steinmann

Thank you in advance for helping me to locate the other exemples.

(I have edited the original whole cloth image as it was very wide and distorting the forum screen view. So as not to lose too much detail I have added detail shots of the centre and left side of the textile. Apologies to Georges! Pamela)


Attachments:
File comment: 68 x 355 cm
Base in raw handspun cotton
Supplementary weft threads:
- cotton (blue - indigo)
- cotton (red-brown)
- silk (yellow)
Probably made during the first quarter of the XXth century

palepai_w.jpg
palepai_w.jpg [ 94.92 KiB | Viewed 15622 times ]
File comment: central detail of GB palepai
palepai_det-centre.jpg
palepai_det-centre.jpg [ 99.21 KiB | Viewed 15622 times ]
File comment: left side facing of GB's palepai
palepai_lft-side.jpg
palepai_lft-side.jpg [ 99.7 KiB | Viewed 15622 times ]

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Information concerning my collection
http://www.ville-ge.ch/musinfo/ethg/expo03.php
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 06, 2011 8:09 am 
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I discover a new picture of this type of palepai in the large book of Shinobu Yoshimoto. Indonesia senshoku taiki (an Outline of Indonesian Textiles). Volume II. Kyoto, 1978. Illustration 195. Page 141. Unfortunately I don't read Japanese and I don't know to whom its belongs.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 06, 2011 12:48 pm 
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Hi Georges

This is a stunning textile! I can well imagine your passion to discover more of them. The technique is very fine indeed and there is so very much figuratively going on in design - and, presumably, so much that is happening culturally that I can only vague guess at. There is very much a sense of movement in the design, a dynamism which attracts the viewer.

For someone who has only a low level of understanding of these textiles is it possible to indicate in the one you show which is sacred and which is not? It is difficult to be able to identify similar textiles with both aspects if one is not clear on the difference.

I have a memory of a palepai in the National Museum in Jakarta. I have hunted through my photos from the visit but, sadly, cannot find a shot of the palepai. It may be because it was hung too high up for decent lighting and too long in too small a room to get a halfway decent shot.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 10, 2011 3:56 pm 
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I am very lucky because I discover a new example of this type of palepai in the collection of the Textile Museum of Canada.
http://www.textilemuseum.ca/apps/index. ... 5861&row=4
What is surprising is that this fabric is most similar to mine, for example the presence of a star motif just after the smallest of the three human figures on either side of the tree. This star was not present on the Tropenmuseum palepai which until now was most similar to mine.
A big thank you to the museums that publish images of their collections online.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 18, 2011 1:48 am 
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Hello Georges,
I have found this Titibin several years ago (15) I tried to research its origin and history but to little avail.
It is similar to the beautiful Palepai that you are showing.
I don't know much about mine except what I read on "Splendid Symbols".
I found it in Victoria, Canada and belonged to a Canadian expatriate returned home for retirement.
Any input is highly appreciated,
Best Regards
Massimo


Attachments:
Tatibin 001.jpg
Tatibin 001.jpg [ 129.41 KiB | Viewed 15462 times ]
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 22, 2011 8:48 am 
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Location: Beijing
Here is another of these attractive cloths, that is somewhat similar to George's example. The end pieces of mine are nearly (but not quite) identical to George's, the center is different.

There is very little information about technique available on palepai and tampan, but given that there are many cloths with closely similar designs it is a fair guess that the weavers used sets of pattern sticks. As far as I can tell you would need two sets for a palepai: one for the edge designs and one for the center. Both would be used twice in one cloth. If you look closely at photos of palepai you can often see slightly awkward boundaries between these two parts, as weavers switched from one set of sticks to another. There is also some evidence (I think) that weavers "mixed and matched" center and border designs: hence the similarity of George's and my border designs but the difference in the centers. A cloth illustrated in the exhibition catalogue "Life Death and Magic" by Robyn Maxwell (National Gallery of Australia, 2010) on pages 16-17 has another version of the center design with two animals (elephants, presumably) like the one on George's cloth.

There are some attempts to classify designs in a systematic fashion (eg "Ship Cloths of the Lampung and South Sumatera by Toos Van Dijk and Nico De Jonge, Galerie Mabuhay, Amsterdam 1980), also some discussion of meanings. But since the weavers are no longer around to ask (?) I think this is mostly speculation!

Some books repeat a story that the weaving of these cloths was ended by the eruption of Krakatao. But since some pieces seem to date from the early 20th century that would seem to be wrong(?).

These are great cloths, very difficult to display adequately. Mine spends its time rolled up in a map chest.


Attachments:
File comment: Palepai, measures 3.3m x 0.6m. Warp is cotton, probably commercial thread, weft is handspun cotton. Supplementary weft design is cotton with indigo blue and two slightly different shades of red, one more brownish than the other.
KT46-1.jpg
KT46-1.jpg [ 116.84 KiB | Viewed 15399 times ]
File comment: Center portion
KT46-1det1.jpg
KT46-1det1.jpg [ 134.75 KiB | Viewed 15399 times ]
File comment: detail of end of the cloth, seems to be a boat bearing trees, surrounded by birds and flowers, with 3 human figures. Very similar to the ends of Georges' cloth, but not quite identical
KT46-1det2.jpg
KT46-1det2.jpg [ 236.58 KiB | Viewed 15399 times ]

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Last edited by Chris Buckley on Sat Oct 22, 2011 8:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 22, 2011 8:50 am 
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Close up view of the weaving in the previous post, showing the point where (I assume) the weaver switched from one set of pattern sticks to another.


Attachments:
File comment: detail of palepai
KT46-4det1.jpg
KT46-4det1.jpg [ 140.79 KiB | Viewed 15420 times ]

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 23, 2011 1:27 pm 
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"Very similar ... not identical"

Identical would be suspicious. (I assume that the ship cloth I bought in San Francisco years ago is a modern product.)

Googling for "ship cloth" found this site:
http://www.lunacommons.org/luna/servlet ... palepai%22

Click and click for enlarged details, which can be moved on the overview in the lower right corner.

The website has 40-odd much longer pages of textiles, many from Indonesia (after one gets past odd US items), apparently mostly from the Fowler Museum at UCLA. Not much description, and a batik was identified as ikat.

http://fowler.ucla.edu/

If Pamela has not already a reference to these sites, she might want to post the information elsewhere.

Regards, Larry


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 Post subject: palepai
PostPosted: Mon Oct 24, 2011 12:07 am 
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Palepai

This is an extremely complex field of study with many divergent opinions (see references at end).

I too was struck by George’s ‘both sacred and mundane’ comment, from Gittinger 1979 (p90). When I looked that up I found no explanation, but referral to Gittinger 1976. In this work she notes the following. Based on her identifications of motifs, only blue-ships hold temporal houses, identified by bifurcated roof structure, only red-ships hold rumah poyong umbrella shapes and have birds in the background.

I would add: her blue ships have no medallions, are solid, have small spaces between major elements filled with larger geometric forms, and the ends are without rows of small triangles but with an indigo row of curvilinear motifs; her red ships have medallions, are x-rayed, have considerable space between design elements filled with tiny geometric forms, and the ends have rows of triangles, usually in red.

Gittinger (1976: 225) then jumps to a dualistic explanation: blue ships represent the mundane [earthly] realm, red ships present the spiritual world.

The key is in the 1976 reference on page 226. For Gittinger, George’s textile belongs to an anomalous subgroup of blue ‘red-ship’ palepai, because it includes both mundane and spiritual elements. It therefore may represent a part of society dedicated to reconciling these two elements. Another textile of this type is illustrated (Gittinger 1976), the strange flanking ‘trees’ with multiple down-curved branches unlike George’s candelabra of palempore-like cypresses. However, with both types of ‘tree’ there is a platform underneath and human figures, much like the double wedding photo in Gittinger (1979).

I find Gittinger’s explanation a bit unlikely. When I classify beetles (as I do for a living) and a new one turns up that doesn’t fit, I redo my classification.

Heres another scenario. Tampan came first, palepai (and tatibin, which are only small blue-ship palepai) developed later. The greatest complexity of designs developed along the coast (the pasisir), especially the old ports. Palepai developed in Kalianda and the idea of them was copied in a few other places but in local styles. In this explanation Gittinger’s ‘blue ship’ palepai are merely a regional type. In colour, border elements, simplified rendition of figures, they conform to the Kota Agung area (the Semangka Bay). Temporal houses are just crude illustrations of more complicated images. As Gittinger noted, identified ‘red-ship’ palepai were only known from Kalianda area. So her blue red ships provide a red/blue dichotomy within one region. In fact, there are red ‘red-ships’ with flanking trees (two are illustrated by Brakel, 1996, from the Tillman coll, Tropenmuseum ( http://ccindex.kit.nl/print.asp?identifier=65950 ) and ( http://ccindex.kit.nl/print.asp?identifier=66174 ), another superb example from the Holmgren & Spertus collection is in Maxwell, 2003).

Maybe its time to rename these textiles. The ‘blue-ship’ palepai = Semangka Bay palepai and the ‘red/blue ship’ palepai = Kalianda palepai. Other styles may represent regionally important centres such as Jabung (close to Kalianda), Putihdoh etc. Don Longuevan, if he's reading this, might have further opinions. As noted by Gittinger, none seem to have been made in Krui, although many are labelled as from there.

Is there a red/blue dichotomy in Kalianda? There does seem to be. While staying with my wife’s family in Kalianda for 2 months, 2009, I was told that paired uncut red and blue ‘tampan’ were hung over a line drawn across a room separating the two parties at a wedding. But that information came from a dealer, none of the local people we met knew anything about tampan or palepai. I’ll post an image when I get around to photographing one.

Gittinger’s studies of the origins of Lampung material culture have been criticised and superceded, notably by van Dijk & de Jonge (1980), Holmgren & Spertus (1980, 1989), Maxwell (1990, 2003) and Vickers (1998). There are many other commentators, but most repeat the well-worn diffusionist path of ships of the dead and dongson culture.

Meanwhile, poverty from drought and internal conflict in the 1960s-70s, combined with the relentless pressure of the international art market, have led to the emptying of the coffers and the end of this aspect of Lampung culture.

I thank Don, Robyn Maxwell & Ayun for chats about Lampung textiles.

Larry - I agree with you, and will try to address the source of these textiles later.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 24, 2011 4:28 am 
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Regarding designs, uses and so forth… this is an interesting discussion so here is another two-pennyworth…

The only systematic fieldwork (that I know of) is the work that Chris Reid refers to, which was done by Mattiebelle Gittinger in the 1970s, at a time when these cloths were still in use to some extent. She managed to discover how these cloths (palepai, tampan, tatibin) were used in ceremonial events, and who owned them. I think it is fair to say that this aspect is reasonably well understood, thanks almost entirely to Ms Gittinger's work (eg see her summary in “Splendid Symbols: Textiles and Tradition in Indonesia”, The Textile Museum, 1979. Incidentally, the palepai at the bottom of the group of 3 on page 89 of this publication must be the Tropenmuseum example that Georges refers to, since it is closely similar to his example, with minor variations).

Regarding motifs, now it gets difficult. I agree with Chris Reid’s reservations about classifying designs as “sacred and mundane”. It seems that the owners of these cloths knew little about the designs, so most of the subsequent interpretation by western scholars seems to be speculative. Tellingly, Van Dijk and De Jonge (1980) provide a detailed discussion, but they mainly reference general works by other western scholars, versus fieldwork. As Chris says, it might still be possible to pinpoint the places of origin of different styles, however, if the fieldwork was done.

I think I detect a general phenomenon at work. Many textile scholars, collectors and dealers have a desire to find “meanings” in motifs, but when fieldwork is done amongst the original owners or weavers these attempts often seem to be frustrated, with researchers either drawing a complete blank or finding that designs have names, but little else. With this in mind I propose a general principle that I modestly call “Buckley’s Law”:

the amount of discussion related to the "meanings" of a set of artifacts is inversely proportional to the amount of evidence that is actually available

For examples of this principle at work, check out any online discussion on tribal rugs (which suffer from a near-total absence of provenance, thereby allowing unlimited, delightful debate), or anything at all related to neolithic art.

Regarding the origins of the cloth I posted, this particular piece came from a dealer in second-hand items in rural Kalimantan. I was looking for old woven mats but got this instead. The dealer told me he bought it on the south coast of Kalimantan around 25 years ago, presumably from a migrant family from Sumatra. When he sold it to me he told me that he was uncertain of its origins but thought it might be "a rare kind of Borneo weaving".

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2011 1:26 pm 
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Special thanks to Chris and Chris for their for their very informative comments. I can add that the former owner of the textile (an old dealer from Lampung) confirmed that it came from Kalianda. This supports the idea of ​​a common geographical origin of this special group of palepai. The one which is illustrated in "Splendid Symbols" from the Tropen Museum (Amsterdam), the one from the Textile Museum of Canada (Toronto) and mine are so similar (95%) that, in my opinion they should have been done in the same village and perhaps by the same people but it is only speculation among other.

About speculation about the meaning of the imagery of ship clothes I was surprised that no one has mentioned the small but very original article by textiles experts Garrett & Bronwen Solyom in Hali
http://www.hali.com/NewsAll.aspx?Action ... 876c527b4d

The search continues ....


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 Post subject: references
PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2011 11:44 pm 
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Thanks Georges for the Solyom reference - I hadnt seen it.

Pamela has suggested I give the references cited above in full, which was just as well as I found a couple of errors in dates. Here they are:
Van Brakel, K., van Duuren, D. & van Hout, I. 1996. The Georg Tillman (1882-1941) collection. A passion for Indonesian art. Tropenmuseum, 128pp.
Van Dijk, T. & de Jonge, N. 1980. Ship cloths of the Lampung, South Sumatera, a research of their design, meaning and use in their cultural context. Galerie Mabuhay, 62pp.
Gittinger, M. 1976. The ship textiles of South Sumatra: functions and design system. Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde 132: 207-227.
Gittinger, M. 1979. Splendid symbols: textiles and tradition in Indonesia. OUP, 243pp.
Holmgren, R. & Spertus, A. 1980. Tampan pasisir: pictorial documents of an ancient Indonesian coastal culture. Pp157-198 in Gittinger, M. (ed) Indonesian textiles: Irene Emery roundtable on museum textiles., Textile Museum.
Holmgren, R. & Spertus, A. 1989. Early Indonesian textiles from three island cultures. Sumba, Toraja, Lampung. Metropolitan Museum of Art, 111pp.
Maxwell, R. 2003 (1st ed 1990). Textiles of south-east Asia. Revised ed. Periplus, 432pp.
Maxwell, R. 2003. Sari to Sarong. Thames and Hudson, 216pp.
Vickers, A. 1993. From Bali to Lampung by way of the Pasisir. Archipel 45: 55-76.

In response to Chris Buckleys comments:
Research is still useful even if you cant talk with the subject, just ask historians, archaeologists, biologists (yes, even beetles), to name a few...

Of the Westerners, Holmgren & Spertus spent considerable time in Lampung at a time when these textiles were being sold. They travelled with knowledgable Lampungese dealers. Van Dijk and de Jonge give a summary in English of the Dutch record of the material culture, which is not negligible and was made in the field. In contrast, Gittinger was only briefly in Kalianda (as she admits) and used an interpreter.

But Chris B implies that only westerners can reseach non-western culture. Native Indonesians can also be experts, not just westerners. I acknowledge that theres a lot of misinformation (this is a culture that does not say no) but there is considerable expertise among dealers, museum staff and people researching local culture. For Lampung there are many local publications. My partner is a native Lampungese. Theres also plenty of misinformation in western literature. Here are a few of the local publications relevant to Lampung textiles or palepai:
Affandi, Y., Kartiwa, S., Panggabean, R. & Abdullah, F. 1995. Indonesia indah, 3. Tenunan Indonesia. 352pp.
Firmansayah, J., Sitorus, M., Zubaidah, R. A. & Spurihatin. 1996. Mengenal sulaman tapis Lampung. 72pp.
Jay, S. E. [editor] 2010. Tenun, handwoven textiles of Indonesia. Tuttle publishing. 192pp.
Kartiwa, S. [undated, 2008?] Ship cloths, rare treasures from lampung. National Museum, Jakarta. 46pp.
Lin, L. C. 1987. Ancestral ships: fabric impressions of old Lampung culture. National Museum, Singapore. 48pp.
Sinuraya, E. H. 2005. Pakaian dan upacara adat perkawinan Lampung melinting. Museum Negeri Propinsi Lampung ‘Ruwa Jurai’, Bandar Lampung, 75pp.
Sinuraya, E. H. & Wayuningsih, E. [undated, 2005] Katalog kain tapis koleksi Museum Negeri Propinsi Lampung ‘Ruwa Jurai’. Bandar Lampung, 92pp

There is also a useful combination of the early Dutch literature and recent fieldwork in Marie-Louise Totton's recent book on tapis, which is not to hand so I cant give details.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 26, 2011 5:05 am 
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Thanks for the list of references, Chris R. A very useful addition.

Regarding "implies that only westerners can reseach non-western culture", my post doesn't say that. I did not intend to imply it, and I disagree with the idea most profoundly.

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 Post subject: old or new palepai
PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2011 10:44 pm 
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On to the origin of the three pieces posted above. In my opinion, they are all modern copies/recreations/inventions, made for collectors at some time in the last 35 years. Most probably they were made in Java, on the north coast at Pekalongan.

The best evidence for my hypothesis is found in the close up provided by Chris B. The background weave is nothing like a genuine palepai or tampan. In the latter, the warp (usually loosely paired) and single weft threads are loosely woven and approximately equally spaced, producing a regular open square mesh, with irregularities due to the home-made cotton (which can be very fine). I dont have any palepai but below are two tampan examples.

There are also good detailed photos of palepai and tampan fabric structure in Langewis & Wagner (1964) & Guelton (1989), showing the open square mesh backgrounds. In the palepai I have access to, the warp threads are denser in the outermost 5-8mm of the cloth. This may be a general feature of palepai, to strengthen the fabric.

Having this loose weave background doesnt guarantee that the piece is original however, as Ive seen palepai made from tampan which were stripped of their supplementary weft, sewn together and repatterned with old coloured threads.


Attachments:
File comment: This is the corner of a Kalianda tampan, showing the square mesh background, with supplementary weft as the main decorative technique. The style is typical of the palepai from this area.
CIMG0042small.JPG
CIMG0042small.JPG [ 206 KiB | Viewed 15231 times ]
File comment: Here’s another tampan, same background, this one from Jabung.
CIMG0068small.JPG
CIMG0068small.JPG [ 215.85 KiB | Viewed 15231 times ]
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2011 10:55 pm 
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Anyhow, to get back to Chris B’s textile. As noted by Brigitte Khan-Majlis (1991:23, with illustrated modern creation) the Javanese copies have different background threading to the originals. In Chris B’s palepai the vertical (weft in palepai) threads are massive, obscuring the thin weft threads. The cloth looks vertically ribbed.

Below is a modern one (sold as modern, from Java) I bought in a department store in Jakarta in 1991, from a large pile of similar cloths.

Another modern tampan is illustrated by Affandi et al. (1995), made in Pekalongan, Java. Similar textiles are offered at several dealers websites as ‘Lampung tampan’.

So indication number one:
(i) the body of new pieces generally doesnt have the correct weave, with densely clustered and/or disproportionate warp or weft threads


Attachments:
File comment: ‘Tampan’ bought in Sarinah store, Jakarta, 1991, c$100. This is densely woven with a similar vertical ribbing effect in the background weave, but in this case due to denser clustering of the warp threads, with the sparse gaps giving the vertical lined ap
CIMG0022small.JPG
CIMG0022small.JPG [ 167.82 KiB | Viewed 15226 times ]
File comment: detail
CIMG0022detail.JPG
CIMG0022detail.JPG [ 143.01 KiB | Viewed 15226 times ]
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