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PostPosted: Fri Feb 07, 2014 5:13 pm 
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Location: Kuching, Malaysia
A catalogue published by the Dallas Museum very recently of which I had contributed a chapter on Iban textiles to. Some very nice textiles.

http://yalepress.yale.edu/yupbooks/book ... 0300184952

http://www.amazon.com/Eyes-Ancestors-Is ... 0300184956


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 07, 2014 5:15 pm 
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For good measure, here's a piece that should look familiar...


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 07, 2014 5:25 pm 
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For those on facebook, I am reachable at https://www.facebook.com/vernon.kedit.7. Follow my 'journey' there. My blog/website http://www.vernonkedit.com/ has come to a grinding halt. So much to do, so little time to go online and do it!

Goodnight all. More later.

Vernon


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 09, 2014 7:53 pm 
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Location: east coast
Greetings Vernon - nice to hear from you anyway. You and your knowledge are sorely missed on the forum.



vernonkeditjolly wrote:
My rather over-the-top office in Layar (Saribas), Betong. Personally, not quite my taste but the idea is to impress, and in Sarawak politics, your constituents expect you to have an OTT office. Oh well.

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John


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2014 5:19 am 
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Location: Kuching, Malaysia
Greetings John!

I was very excited to see this pua kumbu which you showed in the earlier part of this thread. Can you tell me as much as you know about how you got it please? As you can see, it is almost identical to the one I posted above. And I may just have some information that would make you excited too.

Best,

Vernon


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2014 5:33 am 
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Another serendipitous moment!


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2014 4:33 pm 
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Location: east coast
Hi Vernon – So nice to hear from you again and I am now very excited as well! My heart pounds. Mine is so similar to the one you show and of so fine ikat work that I can only imagine it must have been made by someone in your line of great ikat weavers? Although yours would appear to be perhaps more finely and tightly filled with ikat work?

I purchased this piece in Kuching in 2001 and fell in love with it immediately. My raw notes from the time say:

"Hawk" design pua kumbu [my “name”]. Main field appears handspun threads w/natural dyes. Aniline trade thread borders progressing yellow, black, white, red outermost. Triple ikat borders. Deep rich red. Tight, clear ikat. Small blue elements in end and top borders. A number of small "H" elements throughout. Saribas type. Probably late 19th early 20th century. Excellent condition. Extremely fine ikating. 84" x 38". About 130 threads/inch and 25 wefts/inch.

The two pieces (yours and mine) placed side-by-side kind of “sing” together in harmony. The main field design in one is a slightly shifted version of the other. Where one shows three repeats, the other shows two. It’s lovely seeing them side-by-side. Almost as if they were meant to be.

What now is the exciting news you have? My heart still pounds. These textiles are the most amazing pieces of art. They communicate like the great religious pictures of the West.


vernonkeditjolly wrote:
Another serendipitous moment!

_________________
John


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 12, 2014 8:04 am 
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Location: Kuching, Malaysia
Dear John,

The piece on the left (mine) was woven by my great-grandma Sendi's mother named Mengan. The one on the right (yours) was woven by Selaka, Mengan's younger sister. Selaka copied Mengan's cloth, which came first. The design is an original by Mengan. Selaka's 'take' on the design was 'switching' the buah indu or main body of the design from left to right (or right to left, depending on how you view the cloth), hence creating the effect which you call shifting from three to two repeats; a common phenomenon that occurs between sisters, mothers and daughters. The idea is to 'better' the design - a healthy competition between master-weavers of the same blood.

In the early 90's, about 20 pieces woven by Selaka were stolen when her ancestral bilek was robbed. What is left of her work are pieces already bequeathed to grandchildren and great-grandchildren before the robbery.

The piece which you have came from the cache that was stolen. It was woven in the early 1900's. I would not dare put a specific date on it but I am very certain it was an early piece, woven well before she had completed her first cycle and was therefore not allowed conventionally to weave the much coveted colourless selvedge (or as commentators say, "the white border").

John, you have in your collection an old textile from Bilek 5 of Stambak Ulu, the centre of the zenith of pua kumbu weaving in the Saribas at the turn of the last century. It demonstrates the best of the Saribas tradition, and is also a testament of the secret method of tying knots very closely together to create the effect of an explosion of white on red when seen from a distance - the mark of a good Saribas cloth. The "Stambak Method" (see Heppell, Iban Art) is a secret still kept to this day and many Saribas women who have started weaving again have tried to 'crack the Stambak code' but not have been able to replicate what the old Stambak masters could do quite effortlessly.

These are photos of Selaka taken at different periods in her life. Her full name is SELAKA ANAK BOUDYNE GRASI. Her genealogy is as follows:

1. The Orang Kaya Pemancha Dana Bayang x Mengan the Older (f) =
2. The Orang Kaya Aji x Dimah =
3. Mindu (f) x Boudyne Gerasi = Mengan the Younger, SELAKA, Merta, Biut (all sisters were master-weavers, the greatest being Mengan)
4. SELAKA (f) x Anyai =
5. Francis Anji, Duie (f) x Ugap =
6. Ngiok (f) x John Timban =
7. Richard Boon Timban (currently a teacher)

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john wrote:
Hi Vernon – So nice to hear from you again and I am now very excited as well! My heart pounds. Mine is so similar to the one you show and of so fine ikat work that I can only imagine it must have been made by someone in your line of great ikat weavers? Although yours would appear to be perhaps more finely and tightly filled with ikat work?

I purchased this piece in Kuching in 2001 and fell in love with it immediately. My raw notes from the time say:

"Hawk" design pua kumbu [my “name”]. Main field appears handspun threads w/natural dyes. Aniline trade thread borders progressing yellow, black, white, red outermost. Triple ikat borders. Deep rich red. Tight, clear ikat. Small blue elements in end and top borders. A number of small "H" elements throughout. Saribas type. Probably late 19th early 20th century. Excellent condition. Extremely fine ikating. 84" x 38". About 130 threads/inch and 25 wefts/inch.

The two pieces (yours and mine) placed side-by-side kind of “sing” together in harmony. The main field design in one is a slightly shifted version of the other. Where one shows three repeats, the other shows two. It’s lovely seeing them side-by-side. Almost as if they were meant to be.

What now is the exciting news you have? My heart still pounds. These textiles are the most amazing pieces of art. They communicate like the great religious pictures of the West.


vernonkeditjolly wrote:
Another serendipitous moment!


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 12, 2014 8:10 am 
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Location: Kuching, Malaysia
Back row: Mary Magdalene Jolly (my mom, seven months pregnant with me, so technically I'm in the photo) and Sendi (great-grandma).
Front row: Selaka and Ivory Kedit (my granddad).

Taken at the steps of Stambak Ulu in 1967. Sendi was Mengan's eldest daughter, and Selaka was Sendi's aunt, although they were not very far apart in age as Mengan's mother (Mindu) had several sons before Selaka, her next daughter, was born. Mengan married early and gave birth to Sendi not long after Selaka was born.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 12, 2014 8:12 am 
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A photograph of Selaka surrounded by her masterpieces; one behind her and one on the floor.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 12, 2014 2:38 pm 
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Posts: 1989
Location: Canterbury, UK
Vernon

I have been holding my breath hoping that you would indeed continue coming back to the forum and explain to us the wonderful puzzle of the twin (but not quite identical twin) pua kumbus. Thank you SO very much! ....and what a fantastically detailed explanation and so brought to life by the photos! From a forum perspective I could not wish for a better, more detailed or more enthralling denouement!

I, of course, recognise so much of your family tree and they are part of my conciousness.

Thank you so very much for sharing this with all of us.

I know, for you, it will be a sadness that Selaka's pua has 'escaped' from the family collection. However, I cannot think of a more worthy or appreciative custodian and how wonderful it is to be able to share the glory of these master weavers in this way! I love it that the family signature is so clear. It is also special that, via the web, it is possible to bring the two textiles together and see them side-by-side across time, continents and oceans. Indeed, a magnificent virtual gallery!

_________________
Pamela

http://www.tribaltextiles.info
on-line tribal textiles resource


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 13, 2014 2:53 pm 
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Location: Kuching, Malaysia
Dearest Pamela,

You needn't thank me at all. It is I who owe you so much. If it was not for this forum and you, in particular, I would not be where I am today. I say that with all sincerity from the bottom of my heart. When I was at a crossroads in my life, it was this forum which was my life-saver. You cannot imagine how I poured over every thread related to pua kumbu during the long, dark nights of my depression and found solace in my ancestors' legacy. Their silent threads spoke volumes to me. And because of their threads, I found my voice again. Slowly but surely, it returned. And a whole new world opened up before me. (Now I am beginning to sound melodramatic!)

You would be pleased to know that I gave a copy of our unpublished paper on the British Museum's cloth to Gita Brooke, the wife of the late Sir Anthony Brooke, son of the last Rajah of Sarawak, Sir Charles Vyner Brooke. Gita and her sons came to Sarawak at the invitation of the state to celebrate the anniversary of Sarawak's independence on the 22nd of July last year. After the formalities, she had a week's private holiday and was brought to my restaurant by personal friends of hers. They had made a prior booking but it was most unfortunate that I had already promised to attend two political functions in my constituency the same night. So I left a note, and a copy of the unpublished paper to Mom who made sure Gita received them. I did not hear from Gita after that and left it at that. A month ago, Gita emailed me, explaining why she took so long to reply, but the gist of her reply was that she was thoroughly fascinated by the 'discovery' and wrote, "I will be lending it to the Director of our Regional Whanganui Museum and also the Curator of the Sarjeant Gallery, who will both be deeply interested in reading this." Gita resides in New Zealand with her children.

I think it is time we, or rather, I, finished the paper. You have gone out of your way and done your part so very well and I have slacked in finishing up an otherwise very important paper. Please forgive me for procrastinating.

About John's piece, and I call it John's piece because he is now its rightful and customary custodian, I am glad that it is in his keeping. Iban convention dictates that when a piece ends up in somebody else's keeping, either as an heirloom, through the exchange of money, looting (as was in the old days when head-takers also took jars and textiles as prizes) or through unwittingly acquiring a piece from a seller that was stolen from its owner, that cloth becomes the property of the one whose hands it landed in. So John is, by Iban convention, its rightful owner, guardian and custodian. And I know and trust that John would surely keep it safe and accord the cloth its rightful place of honour in his collection.

Pamela, I shall come back here as often as time permits. The political life is a stressful and often times insane one. If there is one place I can forget politics and really be myself, it is here! Thank you so much Pamela for having started this forum, and for being the foundation and glue that keeps us all together.

Thank you all for being here for me too.

Deeply grateful,

Vernon

Pamela wrote:
Vernon

I have been holding my breath hoping that you would indeed continue coming back to the forum and explain to us the wonderful puzzle of the twin (but not quite identical twin) pua kumbus. Thank you SO very much! ....and what a fantastically detailed explanation and so brought to life by the photos! From a forum perspective I could not wish for a better, more detailed or more enthralling denouement!

I, of course, recognise so much of your family tree and they are part of my conciousness.

Thank you so very much for sharing this with all of us.

I know, for you, it will be a sadness that Selaka's pua has 'escaped' from the family collection. However, I cannot think of a more worthy or appreciative custodian and how wonderful it is to be able to share the glory of these master weavers in this way! I love it that the family signature is so clear. It is also special that, via the web, it is possible to bring the two textiles together and see them side-by-side across time, continents and oceans. Indeed, a magnificent virtual gallery!


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 13, 2014 4:18 pm 
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Dear Vernon

Thank you for your kind and clearly heartfelt words about the forum!

First, dare I hope that you will keep an eye on it a little more regularly in future to make sure that no other family heirlooms are surfacing :wink:

Yes, I would very much like it if 'our' paper could be finished. I certainly think of it as 'our' paper even if you have all the hard work of writing it and I had the privilege of undertaking the physical research. I think some of my photos have found their way onto the BM website as I was checking the entry a few days ago and was very pleased to see that some excellent ( :D ) detail photos seem to have appeared! It would be so good if more contextual information could also be added!

I have not been at all surprised that you have turned to politics as it is, after all, in your blood or, in the fashion of the day, I should say that it is in your DNA. I wish you every success in this career although I continue to hope for a little 'balance' which allows us here on the forum to remain at least a small part of your life. I know that when you do something you give it your all and focus the full force of your energies and talents on the matter in hand. However, do listen to 'Auntie Pamela' who has learnt the hard way just how important it is to have some balance in life!

Thank you very much for giving such a clear statement about Iban convention in the case of John's custodianship of this particular example of Selaka's skill.

All the very best,

_________________
Pamela

http://www.tribaltextiles.info
on-line tribal textiles resource


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2014 5:32 am 
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Dear Auntie Pamela!

Let's finish OUR paper. I believe we left it off at the point where you had sent me a list of nits that needed looking to, and an overall re-aligning of the paper to reflect more emphasis on the cloth rather than the history behind the cloth. I have it printed out and filed away. Will look it up later in the afternoon. I hope it won't be too late for the BM?

A thought just came to me - perhaps I ought to start a new thread that would help readers, collectors and dealers identify pieces within their collections that bear similarities from Stambak that may have landed in foreign parts for all sorts of reasons. Who knows what will crop out from under the woodwork! And wouldn't it be wonderful if some of these pieces might even be from Stambak!

Auntie Pam, I have the most wonderful news to tell you, and others reading. Ever since I started moving in my constituency in Betong, attending funerals and weddings has been de rigeur and to my utter and delightful amazement, the BEST pieces of pua kumbu are all still intact and in the longhouses, displayed proudly at weddings and funerals. The conventional thinking among collectors and dealers is that all the best pieces have either been sold or are lost and nothing of note remain in the longhouses. Quite the contrary! The best pieces have been secreted away. The Ibans apparently knew and still know the value of these textiles and have not parted with the best pieces. So what dealers and collectors have assumed to be the finest textiles of the Iban are really just pieces that Saribas Ibans felt they could part with without much heartache. This means all is not lost! if Sandra Niessen is reading this, I am sure she would share my joy!

Of course, during these official forays into the deep Saribas, I would remain dignified (instead of rushing over to the displays and taking pictures of them like a mad researcher in a candy store) but give very specific instructions to my assistant to take photographs of these pieces. Then I get the senior women in my campaign team to discreetly inquire who the owners are and to take notes (as scientific as possible) so that one day I can return in my capacity as researcher to do the real work of having these gorgeous textiles properly documented.

Here's a picture of me shaking hands with the mourners and behind me is the empty coffin while the body lies in state within the enclosure of textiles hanging next to the coffin which is placed outside the enclosure. Those pieces were MAGNIFICENT! I tried very hard to remain cool, calm and collected and talk politics with the menfolk instead of join the womenfolk and listen to them exhort the pieces (as part of the custom during funerals) and how the pieces would draw the deities to attend the lying-in-state.

Now I really must run. Duty calls.

Later,

Vernon



Pamela wrote:
Dear Vernon

Thank you for your kind and clearly heartfelt words about the forum!

First, dare I hope that you will keep an eye on it a little more regularly in future to make sure that no other family heirlooms are surfacing :wink:

Yes, I would very much like it if 'our' paper could be finished. I certainly think of it as 'our' paper even if you have all the hard work of writing it and I had the privilege of undertaking the physical research. I think some of my photos have found their way onto the BM website as I was checking the entry a few days ago and was very pleased to see that some excellent ( :D ) detail photos seem to have appeared! It would be so good if more contextual information could also be added!

I have not been at all surprised that you have turned to politics as it is, after all, in your blood or, in the fashion of the day, I should say that it is in your DNA. I wish you every success in this career although I continue to hope for a little 'balance' which allows us here on the forum to remain at least a small part of your life. I know that when you do something you give it your all and focus the full force of your energies and talents on the matter in hand. However, do listen to 'Auntie Pamela' who has learnt the hard way just how important it is to have some balance in life!

Thank you very much for giving such a clear statement about Iban convention in the case of John's custodianship of this particular example of Selaka's skill.

All the very best,


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2014 2:58 pm 
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Here's a close-up of the enclosure made up entirely of pua kumbu with a slight opening on the other side where only the womenfolk would enter and, as it were, 'keep watch' for three days and three nights. The women would take shifts, but the widow (if the deceased was male) would not leave the enclosure until the burial early on the fourth morning. The other women would comfort her, or the close female relatives (if the deceased was female). Women who could chant would 'cry' and chant the praises of the deceased upon arriving at the longhouse and after entering the enclosure to pay their respects, and would take inspiration from the textiles that make the enclosure because the designs on these textiles would often reflect the social standing of the deceased. The chanting could take as short as five minutes to an extended 20 minutes, depending on the prowess of the chantress. On the third night of the wake, the services of a professional wailer (ALWAYS female) would be employed and she would 'guide' the soul of the deceased from the land of the living to the land of the dead. The chant recounting the journey averages between 3 to 4 hours, depending on the social status of the deceased. The wailer would sit within the enclosure by herself, and the slight opening would be closed. It is at this pivotal and climactic moment in the entire wake that the gods and goddesses are said to be present WITHIN the enclosure to accompany the soul of the deceased back to the land of the dead, and the textiles that make up the enclosure come to live (or rather, are embued with supernatural power) to do their work in creating a sacred space that would protect the wailer, welcome the deities and keep harm at bay. Besides the 'cry' of the wailer (and these days, clip microphones and loudspeakers aid in augmenting the chanting so that the entire longhouse may hear it), one could hear a pin drop in between the pauses. It is a most reverent experience.

This practice, I am glad to report, is very much alive and well in the Saribas, and the choicest pieces are still kept and passed down as heirlooms, for use at such life-crises events in the community.


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