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PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2012 7:48 am 
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Forum members with an interest in Southeast Asian textiles and (warp) ikat in particular may be interested to look at this paper just published online:
http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0052064

This study uses methods that are familiar to biologists and linguists (but less so to textile researchers) to construct a family tree for warp ikat weaving, and to trace its origins back to neolithic cultures on the Asian mainland. It also provides a means for grouping and classifying warp ikat weaving traditions. Most of the classifications are the ones you might expect, but there are some surprises.

The paper has a lot of jargon in it related to the statistical techniques used (no way around that, unfortunately), but I hope that those with interest will wade through the jargon and find the discussion and conclusions worthwhile.

The picture with this post is an ikat tubeskirt from Hainan Island. The ikat textiles from Hainan played an important role in the overall analysis (though they were just one weaving tradition out of 36 considered) because they are the leading representative of warp ikat traditions amongst peoples speaking non-Austronesian languages. These were probably much more extensive at one time but are now very few in number.


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File comment: Tubeskirt made by Meifu Li people on Hainan Island, made from strips of indigo blue warp ikat sewn together, with narrow bands of supplementary warp patterning and one panel of supplementary weft decorated fabric
ikatHainan2.jpg
ikatHainan2.jpg [ 141.74 KiB | Viewed 5301 times ]

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 24, 2012 3:41 pm 
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Hi - Just downloaded the paper for study. Looks exciting! I did note what I and others have maintained for some time, that motifs or figures on Iban/Ibanic Borneo weavings have no real similarity to those on "Dong Son" drums.

Thanks much for this paper lead. Excellent work keeping us informed.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 27, 2012 3:51 pm 
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Great work Chris! It provides a sort of panoramic view of similarities/dissimilaries which many of us probably have formed across smaller groups, e.g., the dissimilarity of Borneo Iban and Benua.- and the Iban/Sumba nexus. Did you include the Kalimantan Ibanic groups such as the Ketungau, Mualand and Kantu' in your study?

Not sure how you determined degrees of similarity between motifs but have you ever considered using fuzzy sets for that purpose?

I will be talking with Prof. Tsai in Taiwan in March and will bring your paper to her attention.


Nice work. Congratulations.


Chris Buckley wrote:
Forum members with an interest in Southeast Asian textiles and (warp) ikat in particular may be interested to look at this paper just published online:
http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0052064

This study uses methods that are familiar to biologists and linguists (but less so to textile researchers) to construct a family tree for warp ikat weaving, and to trace its origins back to neolithic cultures on the Asian mainland. It also provides a means for grouping and classifying warp ikat weaving traditions. Most of the classifications are the ones you might expect, but there are some surprises.

The paper has a lot of jargon in it related to the statistical techniques used (no way around that, unfortunately), but I hope that those with interest will wade through the jargon and find the discussion and conclusions worthwhile.

The picture with this post is an ikat tubeskirt from Hainan Island. The ikat textiles from Hainan played an important role in the overall analysis (though they were just one weaving tradition out of 36 considered) because they are the leading representative of warp ikat traditions amongst peoples speaking non-Austronesian languages. These were probably much more extensive at one time but are now very few in number.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2012 6:59 am 
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Thanks for your comments, John, and thanks for taking the trouble to read this work, much appreciated.

I have only looked at Iban out of the several Ibanic groups you mention. There is no reason why the work cannot be extended to look at those sub-groups, and it would make an interesting study. The only limitation is the the availability of well-documented textile examples from these groups. It would also be interesting to look in more detail at the southern Philippines group of ikat weaving traditions (Bagobo etc), but again, the limitation is a large enough base of well-provenanced textiles, which is lacking at the moment. There might be good material lurking in public or private collections, but this is not accessible to me at the moment.

With groups that are close together and still in contact with each other (or were recently in contact) the relationships might or might not be "phylogenetic" in the sense of yielding a well-resolved family tree. They might (for example) reflect local exchange and intermarriage as much as common ancestry. Linguists sometimes identify "dialect chains" when considering groups that are related and geographically close to each other, and it would be interesting to know if such things exist in the world of material culture as well.

The motif coding that I used is similar to the coding done by linguists, ie present (=1) or absent (=0) for a particular motif or character (= cognate). This is partly a limitation of the analytical methods that are available (which cope well with 1s and 0s but tend to choke on things in between) and partly a limitation of understanding (there isn't an accepted way at present to quantify a degree of difference).

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2012 4:33 pm 
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Thanks for the response and thoughts Chris. I have a fairly good collectiion of Kalimantan Mualang, Ketungau and Kantu' as well as Sarawak Iban textiles that you could take advantage of if you like.

As for the degree of similarity, I have used such fuzzy descriptors as "low", "medium", "high", etc. in mathematical treatments fairly successfully in other areas. Such descriptors are surprisingly robust in terms of concensus and in the mathematics of fuzzy sets ("continuous value logic" is a more descriptive term).

Good work again. Keep it up.




Chris Buckley wrote:
Thanks for your comments, John, and thanks for taking the trouble to read this work, much appreciated.

I have only looked at Iban out of the several Ibanic groups you mention. There is no reason why the work cannot be extended to look at those sub-groups, and it would make an interesting study. The only limitation is the the availability of well-documented textile examples from these groups. It would also be interesting to look in more detail at the southern Philippines group of ikat weaving traditions (Bagobo etc), but again, the limitation is a large enough base of well-provenanced textiles, which is lacking at the moment. There might be good material lurking in public or private collections, but this is not accessible to me at the moment.

With groups that are close together and still in contact with each other (or were recently in contact) the relationships might or might not be "phylogenetic" in the sense of yielding a well-resolved family tree. They might (for example) reflect local exchange and intermarriage as much as common ancestry. Linguists sometimes identify "dialect chains" when considering groups that are related and geographically close to each other, and it would be interesting to know if such things exist in the world of material culture as well.

The motif coding that I used is similar to the coding done by linguists, ie present (=1) or absent (=0) for a particular motif or character (= cognate). This is partly a limitation of the analytical methods that are available (which cope well with 1s and 0s but tend to choke on things in between) and partly a limitation of understanding (there isn't an accepted way at present to quantify a degree of difference).

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2013 2:45 pm 
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Hi Chris

I am afraid my response to your original post has been delayed. I downloaded your article to my I Pad for ease of reading and realised straight away that this wasn't something to be looked at in a rush but needed a serious read. Not quite a new year's resolution but I have spent time this new year's eve and day reading your article and trying to come to terms with phylogenetic analysis. I sort of get there!

Your study certainly covers an area - geographic - of very considerable interest to the textile enthusiasts of this forum. I am, however, sad that the Batak had to be omitted due to the simplicity of their design motifs as they are of particular interest to me. I can understand the relative simplicity of the ikat makes classification using motifs is difficult - another clade all to themselves or an early sub-clade from the Daic perhaps, or have I got the theory all wrong? There are more complex motifs in accompanying supplementary weft and twining although these probably entered the design repertoire later - the dreaded 'Dong son' reference rebutted by your research is often attached to these motifs!!!

I think that I need, having gone through the article very carefully, to start over and read it again now I have some idea of both the data theory and the results of applying it.

Thanks very much for sharing it with us. I must admit to a chuckle of delight when I saw John's reference to "mathematics of fuzzy sets ("continuous value logic"...". I always knew that traditional textiles embrace a very wide range of interests, obsessions and disciplines! How rich this makes discussion and consideration of the textiles and their creating cultures and how it gives breadth to the forum. :D

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2013 6:57 am 
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John - thanks for your thoughts, and for the offer of textile material, I will contact you offline about that ... and re fuzzy sets, it seems like an interesting idea, you may have to teach me! :-)

Pamela - The Batak question is an interesting one. As you say, the reason that it is not included in the analysis is that I was not able to find enough characteristics to make the results statistically valid, mainly because Batak weaving uses relatively few motifs. This is a pity. Looking at supplementary weft motifs might be more fruitful, but these do not necessarily come from the same source as ikat motifs as you rightly say. Looking at loom design, names of loom parts and technique might also yield insights.

Putting statistics aside, some time spent with Batak cloths (and with Sandra Niessen's monumental study on the topic) reveals some differences (to me at least) in Batak warp ikat weaving versus warp ikat from other regions of Southeast Asia. Most other warp ikat in SEA is woven in narrow strips with the decoration organized in hierarchical fashion: there are principal bands of ikat, subsidiary bands and finally minor bands with ikat dashes, at least on the most elaborate cloths. This organization is found on Hainan ikat, Mindanao ikat, Indonesian ikat … in other words it is a near-universal and probably ancestral feature. Even the most highly evolved variants such as Iban and Toraja ceremonial cloths retain vestiges of this organization in the form of smaller ikat motifs in side-bands. Batak cloths are different in conception: the ones with warp ikat decoration tend to use the same motif distributed in bands of equal width across a relatively wide cloth. They are more similar in this respect to weft ikat cloths from neighboring regions, many of which also feature relatively simple motifs distributed evenly across the cloth, without the hierarchical bands. Which begs the question of whether the Batak tradition should be more properly grouped with those weft ikat traditions rather than with other warp ikat traditions in SEA. I have posted an example of a Batak cloth as an illustration... compare the layout of this cloth with the Hainan tubeskirt in the first posting in this thread.

As I mentioned in the paper, you can pretty much draw a line from north to south on the map, dividing the warp ikat traditions of the eastern regions of SEA (backstrap looms with continuous circular warp, no reed) from the weft-oriented traditions (reed looms with divided warp) to the west, with some areas of overlap in the middle, and some outliers (eg Lampung ikat weaving). This is normally attributed to "Indian influence" from the west, which presumably replaced older traditions. If this is correct, then Batak weaving might be the result of adopting the styles of this tradition (wide cloths with simple, evenly distributed ikat motifs and supplementary weft embellishment) but without making the switch to weft-orientation, perhaps due to the relative remoteness of Batak weavers?

All this is very far from "proven", and parts of it are not well-defined (what does "Indian influence" mean, exactly?), but it does make an interesting discussion.


Attachments:
File comment: Batak cloth decorated with ikat, narrow bands of twining securing the ends. 56cm x 256cm, about half of it shown in this photo.
KT138-1.jpg
KT138-1.jpg [ 91.84 KiB | Viewed 5163 times ]

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 07, 2013 3:44 pm 
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Jumping in here a few months behind you all.
1700 textiles from West Timor, Alor, Roti and East Timor at your call. Stats, provenance and info all here.
Blessings Julie


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File comment: A 1920's tais from Belu. Chinese silk trade thread in the buna. Commercial thread and full documentation about weaver.
W1231.jpg
W1231.jpg [ 100.67 KiB | Viewed 4563 times ]

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