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PostPosted: Mon Jul 28, 2014 12:46 pm 
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Hi people, just acquired at auction a nice Lamalera handspun-thread 2-panel Kewatek ( my first Lamalera piece ) which I'd like to share....sorry these are the somewhat grainy pictures from the auction listing as I haven't had a chance to photograph the item myself yet. It's a recent textile, woven in 2007 by Ibu Yasinta Neko Bataona...and originally bought by the previous owner through " threads of life" gallery in Bali. This Kewatek Nai Rua measures 172cm x 75cm with uncut warp threads and all natural dyes, with nice warm colours ( somewhat more subdued than the photos indicate...later I will photograph the cloth under natural light ), and quite soft to the touch. I notice that the "moku" (manta ray) motifs are used quite sparingly compared to images of other Lamalera textiles I've seen. Can anyone comment on the meaning of the rectangular motifs in the ikat ? Good to see that good ikat weaving is alive-n-well in ( at least some parts of ) Lembata island....hopefully also for ceremonial textiles, not just trade cloth like this one. Cheers - Steven.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 29, 2014 5:28 pm 
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If your new (very fine) textile came through Threads of Life it is likely that, although it was woven to sell, it is still very much part of the culture and similar to those for ceremonial use. ToL makes a point of only working with communities which still use the woven textiles as part of their cultural life.

I notice that the warps are uncut. In some Indonesian groups this is has a special meaning - i.e. in the Batak it protects babies/children when wrapped in an uncut Lobulobu. I think there is a similar use in Bali.

Have you read the ToL section on Lembata http://threadsoflife.com/the-islands/lembata/ The introduction says:
Quote:
The village of Lamalera, on the rocky south coast of Lembata, is best known for its extraordinary tradition of whaling from oar-powered boats using homemade harpoons. A complex culture surrounds the hunt and determines how the spoils are shared. Marriage rituals that bind the clans together require the gifting of handspun, natural-dyed cloth, and it is from a group of a dozen weavers within this tradition that Threads of Life commissioned its first textiles.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 30, 2014 5:50 am 
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Thanks Pamela, yes I have followed "Threads of Life" ( and others - like "Timor Treasures" ) and really appreciate their work with local weavers and the fair trade ethics....and appreciate the traditional elements of this particular kewatek. Apparently the uncut warps may ( in a bride-cloth context at least ) signify the ties between the families etc. Have read also that some researchers thought the uncut warps might symbolize the bride's virginity ! Regrettably I didn't reach Lamalera when I visited Lembata in the 1990's....I'm guessing that it's innaccessability, relative to the northern Lembata port towns, bodes well for the retention of traditional weaving methods and cultural values ( especially with the help of people like ToL ). Hopefully this cultural inheritance ( including their fishing / whaling traditions ) can survive in the face of our outside influences, economic development, the digital age etc..


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 02, 2014 2:06 am 
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Steve, Nice textile and very long for a 2 panel piece. I would also like to know what the rectangular motifs in the main bands are. Perhaps TOL could come up with an answer. Have you tried contacting them? It might take some time but surely they could ask the weaver when next they had contact with her if you sent them a photo of the textile. Just as a wild guess I would say it may be some kind of container or basket used for betel or other offerings made during ceremonies related to weaving or whaling..

Thanks for posting this lovely kewatek and thanks to TOL for their efforts in preserving the textile traditions of Indonesia. Keep up the good work!!

Best regards


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 02, 2014 9:51 am 
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MAC, I toyed with the idea that the dark "hourglass" shape within the rectangles might be a stylized moko drum (traditionally a part of the brideprice, albeit quite rare in practice now, but nonetheless an important symbol)....however, the moko would come from the groom's family so maybe not normally depicted on textiles given by the bride's family ( though moko drum motifs might be depicted on textiles not intended for wedding exchanges ). Perhaps Peter TH has some insights into this. Probably a good idea to ask TOL as you suggest also...will work on that. And Julie (at Timor Treasures) is also doing some work with weavers co-ops in nearby Alor so I could ask her too. Anyway thank you for your comments, regards - Steven.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 23, 2014 7:24 pm 
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Hi All,

Haven't been on this forum for some years but returning thanks to the instigation of Peter ten Hoopen. The rectangular motif is known as a KELAPA and signifies the box in which the tools for making the whaling boat are kept. Hope this helps, Sue


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 24, 2014 12:34 am 
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Sue, Welcome back!! So, the motif is a shipwright's tool box. It is interesting that it is called kelapa which is coconut in Indonesian but perhaps unrelated if the word is in the Lamaholot language. As you and David still visit NTT regularly your firsthand knowledge is most valuable so do share with the forum often. Thanks for posting the information about this motif and thanks to Peter for reminding us that the forum is a more permanent place to share information than facebook.

Best regards


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 24, 2014 2:14 am 
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Aha ! thanks so much Sue for filling this blank in our understanding...and hope you stick around now on the forum to enlighten us further. Looks like I was way off with my guess ! I had asked Julie Emery (from Timor Treasures) to make some enquiries as she's in NTT with the weavers at the moment...so will tell her the mystery's solved. Thanks again...and welcome back. Regards - Steve.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 24, 2014 6:26 am 
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Pamela I will recheck the spelling of this when I am there in May. I'm sure you realise that many of the older ladies who have the knowledge regarding the motifs are not always literate. In my notes I had written that it was pronounced CLAPPURR.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 24, 2014 3:36 pm 
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Nice to hear the name of this motif.
Thanks!

Peter

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