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PostPosted: Wed Feb 26, 2014 3:36 am 
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Joined: Sat May 09, 2009 1:01 am
Posts: 246
Location: Japan
Hi all,

Kolana is in the far eastern end of Alor Island and an area that did not use the ikat dyeing technique. The textiles of Kolana are decorated using supplementary weft and warp woven patterns. Few textiles from this area have survived and one rarely sees them on the market. In the 40 years that I have been collecting textiles this is the third piece I have seen and Chris said he was offered one in Bali so that makes four. The National Gallery of Australia has one and surely there must be others in museums that I don't know of. If you have seen one do let me know.

This piece was offered for sale as a scarf from Bali. At a length of 336 cen. that would go around your neck a few times. It is hand spun cotton dyed with indigo. The end panels are decorated with supplementary weft patterns and the selvages have Dong Son S curve patterns done in a supplementary, warp float weave. The S curve patterns subtly alternate as positive and negative images with the white warps appearing as the pattern and then as the background silhouetting it.

I hope other members will add information and textiles to this post as Alor is an interesting island with much diversity.

Best regards


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Alor, Kolana Loincloth 336 x 37 cen.  2014-02-15-- 006.jpg
Alor, Kolana Loincloth 336 x 37 cen. 2014-02-15-- 006.jpg [ 433.39 KiB | Viewed 6980 times ]
Alor, Kolana Loincloth 336 x 37 cen.jpg Half Cloth.jpg
Alor, Kolana Loincloth 336 x 37 cen.jpg Half Cloth.jpg [ 495.84 KiB | Viewed 6980 times ]
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 28, 2014 9:51 pm 
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Hi MAC,

You say that few textiles from this region have survived. Why do you think that is the case?

Rgds.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 01, 2014 2:15 am 
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Jungle boy,

That is a tough question to answer and there may be a number of factors. I didn't go to Kolana on my several trips to Alor as they do not do ikat but net research indicates that missionary work and outside contact started early. The distribution of western clothing, to clothe the naked natives, may have been a factor as it was with tribal groups in the Philippines. A lack of strength in traditional values and a readiness to accept change may have also played a part. In tribal groups where tradition is paramount and textiles play a vital role in ceremonial exchange production has a strong cultural foundation. In other areas textile production may have had less ceremonial importance and in some areas was even prohibited to facilitate a trading system where marine and agricultural products were traded for textiles.

The language spoken in Kolana, Wersing, may also be a clue. It is apparently related to languages in Papua New Guinea and spoken in only a few villages in Alor and Timor which may indicate a Papuan origin for these people. Weaving traditions are not found in Papua where little clothing is worn and phallus sheaths, grass or string skirts and barkcloth sufficed. Whatever the reasons, the fact is that we see very few textiles from Kolana on the textile market.

Best regards


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 01, 2014 9:37 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jul 01, 2013 1:52 pm
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Hi MAC,

Thanks very much for your reply.

And here are some images of a cloth in return!

At 237 x 50 cm it is closer in length to the cloth at the NGA than to yours (although almost twice the width of the NGA cloth). The NGA cloth is labelled a "man's cloth", rather generally.

I was told it was "from Alor"- would you agree that it is, more specifically, from the Kolana district?

I was also told that brown was the rarer colour in these cloths - would you have any information on colour symbolism in these cloths?

Best,

J'boy


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 01, 2014 9:50 pm 
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p/s; sorry I didn't include a close-up but the large "X-shaped" motifs at either end of the cloth appear, at least to me, to contain anthropomorphic figures.

J'boy


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 02, 2014 2:05 pm 
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Location: Japan
Hi jungleboy,

Yes, I would say your textile is a man's loincloth from Eastern Alor and a lovely, old piece with a deep, rich and unusual ground color. All of the textiles I have seen from Eastern Alor, not all that many as they are rare, had indigo grounds. It is hard to tell from photos if the color of your piece is from one dye source, perhaps Morinda with other additives, or if it is perhaps dyed with Indigo over Morinda or vise versa. It isn't the usual Morinda red or brick color. Some areas seem to tend towards burgundy while other areas are a darker purplish color. It is hard to say for sure as colors vary in photos and may not be true to the textile. Many different colors can be achieved with Morinda from browns to bright reds and burgundies depending on what is added and how the dyeing is done. There are also other sources for reds and browns. My textile has only limited use of this color which is a lighter shade as in the hourglass motifs in the vertical borders of your textile.

There are apparently three or four villages or clusters of villages along the northeast coast of Alor that share the Wersing language or one of its dialects. Perhaps your cloth came from one of these areas rather than Kolana proper. There are just too few pieces available to study and so little written about the textiles of this area to be able to say anything with certainty.

I didn't at first see the anthropoid figures on your textile or mine for that matter as they are again subtly created as a silhouette of dark ground weave outlined by the white, supplementary wefts. A most clever illusion that allows us to see the anthropoid motif or the white patterns that surround it. The anthropoid motifs on your textile look more like humans than on mine. If I remember, the piece in the NGA has patterns and colors similar to mine. Must go back and take another look.

The hourglass motifs may represent Moko drums which I think were the currency of wealth and exchange and used for the bride price and other forms of payment in this area. My textile has these patterns only on the ends while in yours they run the full length between the warp float bands. Another possibility for this hourglass motif may be the rice mortar which features prominently in textiles from the Ifugao of Northern Luzon, Philippines. The Ifugao, however, never had Moko drums but are famous for their wet rice terraces and their mortars are hourglass shaped. Eastern Alor is very dry and wet rice cultivation limited so I would think these motifs represent the valuable Moko drums rather than rice mortars on our textiles.

It is interesting that 3 of the warp float bands seem to be a yellow, perhaps commercial trade thread, and the fourth white. Can't really tell if the white is mill thread or home spun. If the yellow is mill thread, it would be an indication of early contact and trade, and may mean that the weaver only had enough to complete 3 warp float bands. Every textile tells a story if one can read the tale.

Thanks for posting this great loincloth which adds immensely to the data bank of textiles from Eastern Alor. Hopefully other members will be inspired to add other pieces or information.

Best regards


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 17, 2015 4:36 pm 
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Joined: Mon Mar 05, 2012 6:32 pm
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Hi Mac and Jungleboy. I realise this thread has been dormant for some time but thought I ought to share this photo of a similar piece in the collection of the museum at Kalabahi on Alor. Apologies for the poor quality of the image but its hard to take good photos when you are looking after a group!


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 17, 2015 4:57 pm 
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Sue, Thanks for bringing some life to this old post. This loincloth looks like it has had lots of use judging from the frayed edges and I like the betel stain. I need to get back to you on Facebook as you are right and I have my candlenut mixed up with symplocos or loba which is called lodhra in Sanskrit. Thanks for posting this loincloth!!

Best regards


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 17, 2015 5:06 pm 
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Joined: Mon Mar 05, 2012 6:32 pm
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Mac, although its a rather sad example I thought I ought to post it as there are so few of them available to study. I think its also good to realise that not everything is in museum quality condition. This has obviously been lived in and loved :)


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