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PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2011 11:13 pm 
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Given that the textiles illustrated by Chris B, Khan-Majlis and myself are all modern ‘creations’, can we see other characteristics that will help to identify other ‘creations’?

(ii) they are usually copies of, or based on, rare types, attractive to collectors. For example, mine is a copy of the textile from the Holmgren & Spertus collection illustrated by Gittinger (1979). Chris B’s is based on a known rare type, with red ships, medallions, lots of stuff on deck and flanking trees. Gittinger’s ‘Blue ship’ or Semangka Bay palepai are not rare and much less detailed and therefore less likely to be copied.
(iii) old palepai are never identical to each other (nor tampan). Copies are often just that.
(iv) the palepai ‘creations’ are rigidly bilaterally symmetrical, unlike old examples. Every dot is in the right place.
(v) the background infill is evenly sized & spaced, unlike old examples.
(vi) gold-coloured thread is no longer available (unless re-used from old textiles) so is replaced by strangely coloured thread (brown or pale yellow).
(vii) there may be strange borders, often simplified, always too regular. In Chris B’s textile a Kota Agung style border is mixed with a Kalianda style central motif.
(viii) strange colours are often used, including purple, odd shades of red.
(ix) perfect condition.
(x) they may use machine cotton [but homemade cotton is still plentiful in Indonesia, so this is not infallible]
(xi) the background threads may be stained with tea to give an aged look.

Applying these criteria to Massimo’s textile shows clearly that it is a modern production, although we cannot see the weave. Similarly, the ‘palepai’ illustrated in Gillow’s book on Indonesian textiles is modern(1992:149).

In Georges’ case, his textile is a straight copy of a well-published (therefore familiar to Indonesian dealers) palepai, shown in large photos with considerable detail by Langewis & Wagner (1964: figs 76, 88, 97). Easy to copy in detail! This is the Tropenmuseum palepai illustrated by several later writers, including a large colour photo in Gittinger (1979, plate 50). Georges' palepai has slight differences, but they are all typical of the features of ‘creations’ as outlined above. For example; the original is not quite symmetrical, the clusters of birds above the flanking ‘trees’ differing – in Georges example they are identical; the original has slight damage along the top border where it was nailed to a wall (yes, my father-in-law used rusty nails for the heirloom textiles in our wedding) – Georges example looks like it has never been used; the vertical gold-wrapped threads of the original have been replaced by gold or pale yellow coloured cotton or silk (based on Georges description, difficult to tell from the photos).

From the evidence above, I would expect that the weave of Georges piece is not like an old palepai.

Ive seen >500 tampan and >40 palepai but never seen exact copies among them of complex patterns such as these. So, in my opinion, Georges has a copy, made c1975-2010 in Java, and so does the Canadian museum he refers to.

At present there is another version of Georges’ palepai, being offered for sale in Bandar Lampung, where quite possibly the newer ‘palepai’ are being made: http://indonetwork.co.id/elegant-frame/ ... ampung.htm

Pamela has alerted me to Sandra Niessen’s excellent blog, referring to the recent death of one of the creators of Javanese ‘ship cloths’, who lived in Pekalongan: http://bataktextiles.blogspot.com/2011/ ... kadir.html

One more thing. Georges dates this example as probably first quarter of the 20th century. After Krakatau erupted in 1883 Kalianda was destroyed by tsunami, ash and a cloud of gas that rolled across the sea covered in pumice and up to 300m on the hillsides nearby. All crops were destroyed and the basic economy and local political structure ended. The region did not recover for years and the present population (85,000) is a mixture of Lampungese from elsewhere, Sundan and Javan. So it seems reasonable to say that surviving Kalianda textiles date from 1883 or earlier.

Thanks to Pamela for feedback and suggestions.

References – as in earlier comment above, plus:
Gillow, J. 1992. Traditional Indonesian textiles. Thames & Hudson. 160pp.
Guelton, M.-H. 1989. The ceremonial role of Indonesian textiles as illustrated by those of Sumatra. pp100-111 in Riboud, K. (ed) In quest of themes and skills – Asian textiles.
Khan-Majlis, B. 1991. Indonesian textile tradition in course of time. Roemer Museum, Gottingen.
Langewis, L. & Wagner, F. A. 1964. decorative art in Indonesian textiles. Amsterdam. [incomplete pagination]

PS Earlier I missed giving details of Marie-Louise Totton’s book on tapis & lampung culture:
Totton, M.-L. 2009. Weaving wealth & styling identity: tapis from Lampung, South Sumatra, Indonesia, 188pp.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2011 1:42 am 
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This is a great analysis, Chris R. Convincing too.

Just one question for you: do you think the weavers of these cloths (both old and Javanese copies) used pattern sticks, as I suggested in my earlier post?

I am interested in the question of how designs get transmitted from one generation to the next, and whether one can distinguish between traditions that used sticks versus other means (eg copying old cloths by eye or from memory).

Gold thread, if present, can be a dating tool. 19thC and earlier thread consists of a gold leaf on a very thin paper foundation, wrapped around silk. Later threads subsitute other gold-like materials, including plastic in some instances. Thread can be re-used, but it is difficult to recover old gold thread from a textile (the old support paper is brittle and it falls apart).

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2011 1:15 am 
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Thank you Chris R. for the breakdown and synthesis.
I had suspected all along that my tatabin was a re-creation...the stylistic features, ... and the tea patina all directed me to think that the assumption be correct. Nonetheless I find this textile impressive.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2011 12:38 pm 
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Yes, Massimo, I think you have hit on a very valid point here. Your textile may not be an 'original' but a later 'creation' (I do like the word 'creation' which Chris R uses rather than 'fake'!) but still requires considerable skill to create and gives pleasure to view. After all, the weavers in the original culture were using examples already created by their forebears, teachers or own experience to weave their 'original' textiles. Of course, any meaning in the culture is no longer valid but certainly the technical expertise stands on its own two feet to be valued. Perhaps as a later creation it also means that we can enjoy looking at it more freely without feeling that we much keep it away from the light and almost never get to enjoy it. I know with my own collection I do not display items from my core collection so hardly ever get to see them. A sad situation indeed!

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2011 10:15 pm 
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Massimo, Pamela,

I thinks thats fine up to a point. As long as you realise that these have nothing to do with contemporary Lampung culture and are most probably Javan in origin.

I do object to some western dealers offering them, albeit new, as from Lampung.

And what do we call such deculturalised items? Is a Javan 'tampan' (meaning covering) really a tampan when its meant for framing on the wall? Fortunately Im not an anthropologist!

Massimo - tatibin are small versions of the blue ship or horned figure palepai from Semangka Bay, but nobody as far as I know has defined them and ive seen tatibin/palepai 150-180cm in width. Tatibin look like they were just scaled down versions of the bigger textiles, made for lesser mortals. They are often crudely made and may have odd colours, suggesting some survival of the tradition after Krakatau (this is a more sheltered area than Lampung Bay), at a guess up to as late as 1920. However, your version is an extract from a Kalianda palepai.

Heres a bad photo of one of our tatibin:





Chris


Attachments:
File comment: tatibin from Kota Agung area
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2011 5:14 am 
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Again, thank you Chris for your clear and detailed explanation.

Are not the double warp threads in these textiles also an indication of a fake?.. an aberration?

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2011 4:07 pm 
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Although these textiles are not my area by a long shot, I am enjoying the discussion and very learned critiques of them immensely.
Somewhere in my past I acquired two similar pieces which I am posting for whatever use that might be to others. One in blue appears to be an end fragment of a longer piece because the weft threads appear to be cut. Or it has had incredible wear and damage to that end. They both appear to be old and genuine as much as I can tell. I have posted detail views as well although my camera does not seem to take very sharp pictures up close. Or more likely it is my technque.

I leave to the experts the classifiation of these.


Attachments:
File comment: "ship 1" cloth. About 2'x 2'.
There appears to have been some sliver threads in it but the silver is mostly worn off.

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File comment: Detail of "ship 1" cloth.
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File comment: "Ship 2" cloth.
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File comment: reverse side of "ship 2"
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File comment: detail of "ship 2" cloth trying to show the treads
ship_2_detailW.jpg
ship_2_detailW.jpg [ 68.84 KiB | Viewed 20486 times ]

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2011 6:34 pm 
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Hi John

Interesting to know what Chris R may say.

Applying what I have learnt from his arguments above I would say that Ship 1 looks to be from Lampung (no idea which more focused location in the area) as it has the even warp/weft weave he identifies and the motifs are not mirror images side to side. (Your detailed close up shots look pretty sharp to me!!!).

Now, based on Chris R's teaching I would say that Ship 2 is more suspect. It seems to have double weft threads (I am assuming there is a selvedge on the left facing the camera) but single warp and the motifs left to right are mirror images of each other.

My comments are not based on expertise but my reading of Chris R's posts above. Great fun, but have I slipped on a banana skin???

I must post photos of my one tampan which I think may be an old one from Lampung applying the CR tests!

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2011 6:55 pm 
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Just been thinking more about how technically the designs are created and Chris Buckley's question about whether pattern sticks have been used.

Unfortunately I am not a weaver although I have a keen interest. The more I have been thinking about the much more idiosyncratic motif placement - i.e. not reflective/symmetrical, the more interesting these 'original' Lampung cloths become. The weaver seems to have been inspired/free to either weave meaning, a story, possibly as the mood took her (but that latter seems a very Western outlook). Is the use of pattern sticks less likely with the more spontaneous/less balanced motifs?

I also thought of Sandra Niessen's belief in the importance of technique for understanding textiles and their development and history. Also how she would love to see a detailed survey of technique from all the groups across the Indonesian archipelago and fascination with what might then emerge. Such a massive project! What is needed, of course, is the expertise of the weavers in each group and, so very, very sadly so much of this has disappeared already as Sandra has found in her travels through the Batak lands of N Sumatra over the last few decades.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2011 3:47 am 
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Hi John

Yes I agree with Pamela's assessment, first one is genuine, from Semangka Bay area, with the old gold or silver wrapped threads that Chris B mentioned. I like these cloths - they may not have much detail but they have wonderful mixtures of the primary colours & they have plenty of mystery. The yellow is sometimes fugitive, maybe from turmeric. The second one is an 'aged' creation. Wrongly woven base, suspiciously deep pink colour, outermost border too crude, perfect symmetry, perfectly placed background spots... Also tellingly, the damage is all on the edges, but these were used for covering food - so on real tampan almost invariably the damage is in the middle where the cloth got stained, moistened, and rotted.

My wife Safrina suggests that the tighter weave of the Javan creations is from the higher tension looms required for batik cloth.

Re the pattern sticks suggested by Chris B. The weavers are all long dead and Im not an expert on weaving. But I suspect, like Pamela, generally not, otherwise there would be plenty of exact copies amongst the old stuff, and there arent. This is in contrast to situation in Sumba where pahikung patterns on lau pahudu are often exact copies and are known to be based on pattern sticks. The evidence is strong that Lampung weavers were adapting patterns visually or from memory, because you can see clear successions of slight changes in pattern. So there are ancestor/descendants clusters of patterns, as was pointed out by Holmgren & Spertus. I gave a talk on the analysis of tampan patterns at Uni of Sydney in 2006 & havent followed up. One day...

Also, as Adrian Vickers has suggested & alluded to by Pamela, there is probably a narrative in the more complex designs, much as in the Balinese Kamasan paintings, requiring a number of different illustrations.

Chris


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2011 3:20 pm 
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Thanks much Pamela and Chris for your very thoughtful critiques of the two pieces I posted. I definitely learned much from this and the forum in general.

I appreciate and can accept your comments on the two pieces. I have no real investment in them as I think I got them and an ulos in one lot for less than $300 at auction. But I have to think that if the "blue" one is a fake, they went through some incredible work to weave it, then age it with holes, stains, completely cut weft threads on the ends, etc., etc., for the few dollars it must have sold for. And the colors in the postings are not quite what they actually look like. The actual colors are somewhat more faded and muted looking. Maybe the flash on my camera brightened them up?

But thanks again so much. I'll add your notes on them to my spreadsheet inventories if that's ok?

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2011 10:31 pm 
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Hi John

Thanks for the input.

The minimum daily wage is approximately $2.50 (Rp750,000 per month)and many probably aspire to that. Labour is cheap. So if you can make a $10 textile into a $50 textile by cutting it and rubbing it in dirt, why not? But I doubt if the same people made it and damaged it.

Yes please use the notes - thats the beauty of this forum. I hope they are accurate enough. Was looking at our few Kalianda tampan again - they are mostly very strongly bilaterally symmetrical, so maybe this is not such a good criterion for distinguishing modern versions of this style! Just a few dots out of place here and there. More on this later, I'll try photographing fronts and backs as they have some characteristic features of the supplementary weft.

Chris


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2011 6:34 am 
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Don't know if it is helpful or not but Susan Stem on her Tribal Trappings website has a group of 'tampan'. The majority of these are 'creations' or new as Susan says in her individual information texts. See: http://www.tribaltrappings.com/TISA_2.html Most have strongly bilaterally symmetrical, however, one or two do not so it does seem that perhaps this is weaker ground for identifying original v. creation. Interesting that colours and some designs are similar to John's Ship 2.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2011 4:38 pm 
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Thanks again for the further notes.

Actually, I am fascinated by fakes in art. Thomas Hoving's book "False Impressions: the Hunt for Big Time Art Fakes" is especially readable with lots of references. Hoving was a director of the Cloisters and the MET in NYC. Setting up the "deal" to plant the fake is often more interesting that the actual piece.

Maybe there should be something similar published for textiles?

And it is a shame about old weavers dying off. I was fortunate to capture a couple short movies on my little digital camera of weaving students in the Tun Jugah Gallery in Kuching a couple years ago. I hope to go again next year and take more detailed movies.

There is a good and fairly detailed explanation of steps in ikat weaving in Margaret Linggi's "Ties That Bind". The actual weft insertion appears to be the simplest of all although as I watched a weaver beating down the weft threads in the Tun Jugah Gallery, I noticed that the design was developing a slight slant downwards to the right because she was beating down harder with her right hand. She attempted to correct this by making a weft insertion about half way across and doubling back to build it up on one side. Apparently this works if the slant is caught in time. I couldn't stay in Kuching long enough to see how it turned out but I have several beautiful ikats with a strong slant to the design and I assume something like this had happened.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 2:36 pm 
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On Pamela's point about pattern sticks…

I agree that understanding technique is crucial to understanding a tradition.

with regard to the palepai and tampan specifically, maybe they were done from memory as Chris R says. My original question on these cloths was prompted by Robyn Maxwell's comments in "Textiles of Southeast Asia" (page113), where she briefly discusses palepai with duplicated designs and remarks that "there always appear to be subtle variations in their depiction since different sets of shed sticks were apparently used to weave each image".

The Daic peoples of mainland SEAsia do use patterning devices, though there is very little literature on this. There seem to be two major types in use in SEAsia generally:
1) manual - like the pahudu string models used for supplementary warp designs in Sumba, these are templates for designs, but the sheds in the weaving must be created by hand by the weaver
2) mechanical - string/stick models that are used to directly control the raising and lowering of warp threads during insertion of weft, like the types used by the Zhuang, Buyi, Maonan and other Daic groups in Southwestern China.

There's a good description of the pahudu string models in a chapter by Marie-Helen Guelton "Through the Thread of Time" edited by Jane Puranananda (River Books, 2004). There is a photograph and description of the mechanical kind in Eric Boudot's article on Woven Bedcovers of Southwest China's minorities in Hali 155 (Spring 2008, page 65).

I find traditions that use patterning devices particularly interesting, since they tend to preserve designs faithfully from generation to generation. As Guelton says "pahudu based iconography changes only gradually, if at all, in spite of foreign influences". Even if the techniques have been lost it should (in principle) be possible to spot the use of patterning devices in the textiles themselves. Some of the signs should be:
- mirror image designs (since it is easier to duplicate a template in mirror image than to create a new one)
- near-exact repeats occurring in a design
- repeated errors (caused by missing or damaged pattern sticks)
- truncated designs (since patterns tend to lose sticks from the edges)
- near-but-not-quite-exact copies of designs between different textiles (caused by near but not-quite perfect copying of pattern stick sets)
- a tendency for designs to become illegible over a long period of time (caused by errors accumulating as pattern sticks are duplicated).

Errors aside, designs that have been made using pattern sticks may be extremely ancient, since one pattern might be used for a half a century or more before it needs replacing with a copy. So designs that have remained stable for 500 years (perhaps longer) are very possible. Textiles are an ephemeral art form, but looking at designs made by pattern stick traditions is like gazing back into the past.

I am attaching some photos of textiles that seem to have employed templates, that show some of the points I mentioned. The first is a Shan (Daic) textile that I have already posted previously on this forum. Look at the repeated motifs, and also compare the left and right sides of the textile (which is composed of two loom widths joined together). The middle band of bird designs shows clear signs of degenerating into illegibility. The second and third were made by Daic people from Southwestern China. These are details from two different textiles.

If Forum members know of more types of textiles and weaving traditions that use templates I would be very interested to hear.


Attachments:
File comment: detail of a Shan supplementary weft textile
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File comment: Detail of a different Maonan weaving
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CET219-3.jpg [ 151.95 KiB | Viewed 20359 times ]
File comment: Detail of a Maonan weaving
CET220-2.jpg
CET220-2.jpg [ 171.59 KiB | Viewed 20359 times ]

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