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PostPosted: Tue Sep 10, 2013 11:35 am 
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Joined: Tue Jun 26, 2012 11:18 pm
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Location: Portugal
Dear friends,

I just acquired an ikat from a man based in Kupang. He says that it was offered to him by a woman from the Flores Bird's Head Peninsula, and I have no reason to doubt him. The vernacular certainly seems Lamaholot. The quality of the weaving is excellent, the tonality very rich and saturated. What I would like to know is if anyone can pinpoint the provenance with more certainty. It is similar to some Ili Mandiri kewatek mean (except for the use of indigo of course), but I have very few comps and it could just as well be Lobe Tobi. Any help would be much appreciated.

Kind regards,
Peter ten Hoopen


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ikat_128.jpg
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 17, 2013 7:16 am 
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Joined: Mon Jun 30, 2008 7:33 am
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Peter, it looks like Ili Mandiri motifs to me too.

Kupang dealers seem to have quite a few Ili Mandiri sarongs, probably because the weavers seem to be relatively active still. My guess is that this was made for trade by an Ili Mandiri weaver, with typical motifs but non-standard coloring (blue stripes instead of red all-over).

There's a sarong that is said to be from "Flores - Bird's Head" on this website too, though this also looks like an Ili Mandiri sarong to me:
http://culturaltreasures.ca/textile_sarong_ikat_ethnographic_tribal.html

A possible source of confusion is that there are several "Bird's Heads", including one in Alor and the best-known in New Guinea. The latter is well-known for its accumulation of trade textiles (Kain Timur), especially ikat:
http://www.academia.edu/798209/Cloths_of_Civilisation_Kain_Timur_in_the_Birds_Head_of_West_Papua
However I don't think that this is what was meant in this case, I think it is from eastern Flores as your Kupang dealer says.

Chris

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 17, 2013 8:33 am 
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Here are a couple of Ili Mandiri sarongs that are of the "standard" type. The all-over red one with cowrie shells is a woman's kewatek me'an (ceremonial sarong), the other is a woman's second grade cloth, which is characterized by lots of narrow bands of red and blue. There's also an all-over blue version of this design with narrow bands, for daily wear.


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File comment: Kewatek me'an (woman's ceremonial sarong), Ili Api
KT62-1.jpg
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File comment: Woman's second-grade sarong, Ili Api
KT63-1.jpg
KT63-1.jpg [ 151.52 KiB | Viewed 3491 times ]

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 23, 2013 5:48 pm 
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Dear Chris,

My apologies for the late apply. I did not get a notification of your post. Need to check my settings...

Thanks very much for your thoughts on this piece. Off-standard Ili Mandiri, a good way to put it I suppose. But how far off-standard? The dark bits (I should have mentioned it, you cannot see it on the photo) to me look not pure indigo but belapit. Which would bring it back into the fold of tradition as far as I understand it. Or? The weft by the way is morinda, as it is supposed to be in Ili Mandiri.

Thanks also for providing examples. Love the kewatek mean with cowries. Interesting that you should also refer to the Ili Mandiri kewatek mean on culturaltreasures.ca. A fine piece, and a classic example of the type (vide Hamilton). Did you notice it marked as ‘sold’? I wouldn't be surprised if it showed up on somebody's website one of these days.

The other one on your site, which you call Ili Api, to me is reminiscent of an Ili Mandiri kenirek miten (again, vide Hamilton). Or could it be that these two styles are so similar – the one from Lembata, the other from the Bird’s Head of Flores? You yourself put Ili Mandiri in a category of its own, not related stylistically to any of the other groups of the region. Readers will know of course that I am referring to your phylogenitic analysis of warp ikat weaving in S.E. Asia, which I just stumbled on last week. (Much of it way over my head, so I had to really apply myself to grasp it, but fascinating, and enlightening in the way you group certain styles. And it finally puts to rest the whole Dong Song legacy, which I never found convincing.)

All in all the whole Bird’s Head denomination is confusing. New Zealand and Alor apart, I thought that the Bird’s Head Peninsula (which actually looks like a scorpion’s tail) included both Ili Mandiri and Tobe Lobi. Am I mistaken? If so, what weaving areas do you say it does cover?

Kind regards,
Peter

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PUSAKA COLLECTION: ONLINE MUSEUM OF TRADITIONAL INDONESIAN IKAT TEXTILES


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 26, 2013 9:35 am 
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hi Peter,

I am guessing you are the proud owner of the "culturaltreasures" sarong now ... congrats, that is a good one!

"Ili Api" pieces are difficult to define, particularly because those weavers often made and sold ikat (woven or unwoven) to other areas, in various styles. Ili Api sarongs and ikat crop up quite often in Alor for example. There are several villages on Alor (eg Takpala) that feature in all the tourist photos of people dancing in traditional sarongs, and in many of the books on textiles too. These villagers did not weave but purchased Ili Api sarongs in the markets. This point is not clear in some publications related to Indonesian textiles.

I admit I don't know what area "Bird's Head" refers to, except for the New Guinea one which is quite well-known I think. I suspect any spit of land that happens to look like a bird's head... A term that is probably best avoided because of the potential for confusion?

In the course of doing the research for the article you mentioned I came across many beautiful textiles from this region that I was unable to use in the study because the attributions were suspect or wrong. The book that Hamilton edited (Gift of the Cotton Maiden) is one of the more useful ones because the textiles in it are mostly reliably attributed. Chapter 11 (Penelope Graham) is the most useful material that I know of for identifying Ili Mandiri styles.

Chris

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 27, 2013 2:15 pm 
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Hallo Chris,

Thanks for the compliment about the "culturaltreasures" sarong. (I am attaching a picture so people know what we're on about.) I agree about the Ili Api pieces showing up elsewhere, in styles that are heterodox. I have seen the images of Alorese dancing for mini-cruise tourists in 'their' ikat sarongs - to my horror. When I visited the island in 1981, no one wore such stuff, neither daily nor at festivities. What little ikat was actually worn tended to have been made with aniline dyes, and be fairly simple. We did see some old pieces, gorgeous, in the museum, but the old Raja of Kalabahi in whose losmen we were staying and with whom I had long daily talks about my fascination for kain ikat, assured me that no old pieces were to found on the island; that the catholic priests had been down on their production for so long that people had mostly given up making them, and that whatever old stock might have existed on the island, so many orang barang-barang antik had preceded me that there was nothing left. Over time he was proven largely correct.

The 'Bird's Head Peninsula' refers to the East Flores Regency, say the bit around Larantuka, but especially the curving tip of the island with its two large volcanoes and the Ili Mandiri and Tobe Lobi weaving areas. Not a very good term to use admittedly, but it has become rather common. I agree that Hamilton's Gift of the Cotton Maiden is the best reference work for the region - and for the rest of Flores. It's a shame that Ernst Vatter did not care as much for textiles as for other aspects of the material culture. And it is somehow strange that Hannah did not manage to make him pay more attention to them, even though on p. 155 of Ata Kiwan she describes how in Lobe Tobi she finally managed to focus the village's chattering women on ikat weaving, a subject 'that was especially close to my heart". I have just ordered Ruth Barnes hefty tome on his/their never exhibited collection and hope to see a few old pieces that shed new light on the weavings styles of the region.

Best wishes,
Peter


Attachments:
File comment: Kewatek mean from Ili Mandiri, East Flores (the bit often referred to as the Bird's Head Peninsula), in three shades of morinda, the darkest highly saturated. Very similar to a kewatek mean worn over her shoulder for display by an Ili Mandiri woman from Wailolong on photograph in Hamilton, Gift of the Cotton Maiden, Fig. 8-5. Pusaka Collection #097.
ikat_097.jpg
ikat_097.jpg [ 369.57 KiB | Viewed 3410 times ]

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PUSAKA COLLECTION: ONLINE MUSEUM OF TRADITIONAL INDONESIAN IKAT TEXTILES
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