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PostPosted: Fri Jun 21, 2013 7:35 pm 
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Location: Japan
I recently acquired this silk, weft ikat sarong. When and where it was produced are the primary questions and both may perhaps be answered by its colors. The previous owner attributed it to Palembang, Sumatra. However, its palette of six colors would seem to preclude that as the basic color scheme of Palembang was dark red and blue and their over dye, burgundy. On rare occasions I have seen yellow used and in the last days of decline after the arrival of chemical colors lots of chrysoidine orange. In Palembang they liked the glitter of gold and many of their textiles were all gold brocade without any ikat. When ikat was used, I believe it was always in combination with gold brocade borders and/or end fields. Textiles with only ikat patterns were perhaps too mundane for flamboyant Palembang.

A palette of light blue, green, yellow, red and over dyed burgundy might point to Muntok on the Island of Bangka where the best ikat textiles with five, light, bright colors were produced for the wealthy of Bangka and Palembang. These silk, weft ikat textiles, however, usually had gold brocade though often less than Palembang. Furthermore, production of these fabulous textiles seems to have ended abruptly with the decline of the pepper trade, either prior to or without adopting chemical colors. I can't remember ever seeing a textile from Bangka with chrysoidine orange, which replaced natural yellow, or methyl violet which are found in silk textiles throughout SE Asia.

Other centers of weft ikat production, Lampung, Pasemah, Minangkabau and Riau either don't have the color range or the sophistication and clarity of ikat. The one thing that all of these production centers do have in common is Malay immigrants and influence. I therefore believe this sarong was produced on the Northeast coast of Malaysia perhaps in the state of Kelantan. In the 19th C. very precise weft ikats were produced in five bright natural colors in this area. Some splendid, all ikat sarongs with very similar patterns and colors can be found in the Textile Museum of Canada. They are attributed to Northeast Malaysia.

Now for a production date. Early Malaysian, weft ikats had all natural colors. The natural bright yellows were eventually replace by chrysoidine orange which was first produced by Heinrich Caro in 1875-1876 at BASF in Germany. Although chemical dyes were first produced in England, often by German chemists, by the 1870s Germany had gained dominance with the return of many of its chemists from England. Caro himself returned in 1866 to work for BASF. Germany was not a great seafaring nation, however, and the dyes they produced were probably marketed by the Dutch and English East India Companies. I have a Malaysian, silk weft ikat limar in which natural green is used in the ikat but a chemical green stripe separates the main and end fields. These threads were probably marketed pre-dyed with methyl green discovered in 1872. Another early Malaysian textile in my collection was originally dyed with natural colors and decades later chrysoidine orange was painted over some white areas to keep up with fashion trends.

The textile I have posted has both a natural yellow and chrysoidine orange indicating perhaps an early transitional stage before natural yellow was abandoned altogether. The rather large blocks of ikat and slight blurriness also show the beginnings of decline. Chemical dyes were being imported to India by the early 1870s and by 1887 began to destroy the natural dye industry there. The timing in Malaysia must have been similar. I would date this textile in the range of 1880 to 1890 and would guess that by 1900 natural dyes had for the most part been replaced by gaudy, orange, purple, green and pink chemical dyes. The ikat technique itself survived into the 1920s or 30s perhaps when it was also abandoned.

It is possible that this textile was collected in Palembang having travelled there in trade or a bride's dowry but I believe it was made in Malaysia. Other ideas or information about the spread of early chemical dyes, silk, weft ikats or this textile would be most welcome.

Best regards

[Can I please remind forum members that images when posted should NOT be wider than 600 px to stop the forum being distorted when read. I have resized the overall image and rotated the detail image. Thank you, Administrator]


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 12, 2013 4:45 pm 
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Dear MAC,

I don't think this cloth is from Malaysia. While the use of the foliated trellis is common throughout the Malay world I haven't seen a sarong that is quite like this from Kelantan/Terengganu. One tip would be the design in the "tepi ibu kepala" (the two narrow weft panels framing the pucuk rebung in the central kepala) - it deosn't recall designs used in Malaysian east coast cloths.

I do, however, have this sarong and yours and mine would likely come from the same place. I was told mine came from Riau, and it was provided by a supplier who lives in the Riau archipelago and who collects things from around that region.

Kind regards,

Jungleboy


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 13, 2013 4:57 pm 
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Joined: Sat May 09, 2009 1:01 am
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Location: Japan
Dear Jungleboy, Welcome to the forum. It was indeed a pleasure to find your reply to my post this morning. It has been hard to find other members with similar textiles and information about them.

Riau is a bit of a mystery as we see so few textiles that are said to have been made there. Do you know of any books that show and discuss Riau textiles? Do you have other textiles from Riau that you would be willing to post? I would be most interested to see them.

You say that you got your sarong from a supplier who lives in Riau so we may assume it was collected there. The question is whether it was produced there or found its way there through trade, migration or marriage and was actually produced somewhere else. Have you had a look at the Malaysian textiles in the Textile Museum of Canada? They have a rather nice collection gifted by three or four people. I don't fully agree with their dating and in a case or two with their attribution but they do have good photos of a number of early 19th century textiles, most of which are attributed to Malaysia, and if I remember correctly none attributed to Riau.

They have several sarongs that are quite similar to ours and are attributed to Malaysia. They have all natural colors and much clearer ikat and probably date to the early 19th century. Our sarongs have some chemical dyes and the ikat motifs are not as clear or intricate, indicating a later production date, but they look quite similar in layout and motif.

I haven't seen many textiles attributed to Riau and don't really know much about Riau so I can't say for certain that our textiles were not produced in Riau. They may have been produced there by immigrants from Malaysia.The seller from whom I acquired my sarong said it was from Palembang and indeed it may well have been collected there but I don't think it was produced there.

I would be most interested in seeing other related textiles from your collection. Any further information you may have on Riau or Malaysia would be of great interest as well. How old would you say your textile is? Do you know when chemical dyes were first used? Do you know when silk, weft ikat production ceased in Riau or Malaysia? I look forward to further posts from you.

Best regards


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 13, 2013 5:22 pm 
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Location: Japan
Here is one of the textiles from the Textile Museum of Canada. It is from the Opekar and Webster collection, dated to the 19 century and attributed to Malaysia. I think it looks a lot like our pieces except for the colors, all natural, and the clarity of the ikat motifs.

Best regards


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 13, 2013 7:30 pm 
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Hi MAC,

Thanks for your replies. Lots to respond to and as we seem to have questions and answers going on in two threads perhaps you're right and it might be useful to start a new thread. I'll do that in the next few days.

Thanks, too, for the Textile Museum of Canada tip - I didn't know it existed and they've certainly received quite a few cloths from Malaysia.

This cloth that I just stumbled across in the Met's collection might interest you:

http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/se ... ang&pos=10

J'boy.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 13, 2013 11:43 pm 
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Location: Japan
The cloth in the Met is listed as being from Palembang but with green, yellow, blue and red I would say it has classic Bangka colors and motifs in the kapala. The zigzag patterns in the body of the cloth are rather unusual. I don't see many sarongs from Bangka. Most of the pieces one sees are shoulder cloths and generally have gold songket end fields. An unusual and interesting piece indeed.

Best


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 19, 2013 4:47 pm 
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Hi MAC,

I thought a re-attribution of the Met cloth might be your first reaction! Yes, the zig-zag pattern is unusual - there is one in the Malaysian national collection but I haven't seen other Malay ikats with this pattern.

I would have identified the textile Museum of Canada's cloth that you post as from Malaysia's east coast. Don't think there's a problem there.

There are similarities in overall patterning with the cloths we own that are shown in this thread but I don't think we can attribute a Malaysian origin for our cloths based on this. The floral grid is a pattern that's too common throughout the Malay world (in both limar and songket) to specify a location in itself and the kepala patterning we see is pretty common too.

Regional variations in patterning often show up in smaller details or in some instances, particular ways the weavers interpret a particular motif. For example, the use of the gryphon is often found as a small border motif in Palembang songkets and usually identifies a cloth to that region - or the use of tiny coloured silk highlights in their songket selendangs. And one particular rendering of the pucuk rebung in Malaysian songket (the "lawi ayam") can usually identify the cloth to Terengganu. (Missing that has allowed for a couple of cloths in books to be wrongly attributed to Palembang.)

The design element that I'm focusing on in this discussion is the two small bands to either side of the central kepala. In our two cloths there is a design that I've never seen used in any Malaysian limar. (In other parts a cloth yes, but not in the kepala borders.)

In contrast, the kepala border pattern in the Canadian cloth is one that is very often seen in Terengganu cloths.

I'm posting this particular meander from four Terengganu silk ikats - and, just for interest's sake, in three Terengganu songket borders. (Note the one songket example that also has small birds - possibly a leftover from earlier times when figurative images were more common in the esat coast cloths.)

J'boy


p/s: As a matter of interest, you said you "don't fully agree ... in a case or two with their [the Textile Museum of Canada's] attribution" - which particular cloths, if I may ask?


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 19, 2013 4:54 pm 
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The border meander pattern (in songket) from three other Malaysian east coast cloths.


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