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PostPosted: Wed Oct 29, 2014 5:02 pm 
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“Woven Languages: Indonesian Ikat Textiles from the Peter ten Hoopen Collection”

Exhibition at the Museo do Oriente, Lisbon – 23 October 2014 to 25 January 2015
http://www.museudooriente.pt/

I recently made the pilgrimage to Lisbon for the opening of the above exhibition which shows some 80 of the finest textiles from Peter ten Hoopen’s collection of Indonesian ikat textiles. (See previous thread about the exhibition: viewtopic.php?f=3&t=2509 ).

Peter says of the exhibition ‘Woven Languages’ (a tribute to Brigitte Khan-Majlis) that it is historic because he believes it to be the first exhibition in the world dedicated exclusively to Indonesian ikat weaving traditions in a comprehensive fashion. “The exhibition, on 500+ m2, presents the weaving arts of the entire Indonesian archipelago, from Sumatra and Borneo to East-Timor and beyond, including early 20th C. examples from very remote, tiny islands. 'Woven Languages' includes several of the world’s rarest specimens, offering a unique opportunity to see these fragile masterpieces of an ancient art form that is fast dying out. Of special interest are the Sumatran silk limar with gold brocade, the sacred Balinese geringsing from Tenganan, colonial period sarongs from the Moluccas (Kisar, Babar, Luang, Lakor), and refined ikat textiles from Los Palos in East Timor, of which less than ten are known to be extant. Perhaps the most spectacular piece is a 4.5m long 'elephant patola' made in India for Indonesian rajas, one of the best preserved of a dozen known pieces in the world. A few cloths are on loan from other museums but the core of the exhibition is formed by my ‘Pusaka Collection’ (see http://www.ikat.us ). The collection is enriched by documentation that brings to life the people, notably the women, who made these fascinating textiles.”

I appreciated the informative labelling of the exhibits which made the show a real learning experience. Sadly there are no dimensions of the textiles given which, unfortunately, is carried through into the catalogue where this would have been even more invaluable. However, for the dedicated researcher, the Pusaka collection number is given in both the exhibition and catalogue captions and can be fairly easily found on-line where the cloth dimensions are provided.

The exhibition is very well hung and I found it a joy to behold with the lovely hues of indigo and morinda glowing out from the gallery walls and inviting closer inspection. There were a few photographs illustrating the construction of the textiles and their ceremonial use. The chance to see two patolas from the second half of the 18th century which had been imported into Indonesia from Gujarat in western India was very special given that so many of the ikat motifs had been inspired by designs from patolas. These large textiles were very sympathetically displayed under glass on a huge flat table-like structure juxtaposed with two lovely silk and supplementary gold thread kain limar clearly inspired by the patola motifs and thought by Peter to be from Muntok on Banka island or from the Palembang region of Sumatra. Unfortunately, in the catalogue the significant size of the two patolas does not come across especially without textile dimensions but the adoption of motifs, particularly the tumpal style end songket gold thread borders, is very striking in both exhibition and catalogue.

The quality of the textiles on display was generally very high and it was a joy and privilege to see so many special and often rare heirloom examples. Peter has tried to collect ikat examples from right across the Indonesian archipelago. After an introductory section the textiles were displayed in island groupings allowing differentiations of local style to be assimilated so that when I returned to the first textiles I had a real sense of familiarity with their origins.

The exhibition catalogue, published by the Fundação Oriente Museo, Euro 15.00, ISBN 978-989-8651-07-5 is in both Portuguese and English and has 96 pages in full colour with photos of all the exhibits (except one textile on a model) plus some cultural context images (including, I noticed, a photo from forum member Chris Buckley). The catalogue not only picks up on the individual textile captions but has some good information on ikat cloths across the archipelago to aid identification and general understanding. The images are quite well printed but I think would have benefited from a lighter display background (as in the sympathetic blue/grey of the walls of the exhibition itself) rather that the all absorbing black which tends to make more sombre textiles with greater expanses of indigo, especially at the borders, harder to ‘read’. I will certainly use it as a very useful visual reference for cloth identification in the future. It will also encourage me to access http://www.ikat.us and point the way to particular regions to explore on-line. This on-line collection (with probably double the number of textiles on show in the exhibition) is available at http://www.ikat.us as ‘Pusaka: Online Museum of Indonesian Ikat Textiles’. As part of the preparation for the exhibition catalogue Peter had all of the collection photographed professionally and these images may be accessed via the website.

I encourage readers of this review to visit the exhibition in Lisbon if at all possible as it is a visual feast and an opportunity not to be missed of seeing and examining closely such a breadth of Indonesian ikat at one time. Failing this try and get hold of the catalogue from the Museo do Oriente (Shop: Phone: 213 585 243, E-mail: lojamuseuoriente@foriente.pt ) and/or access Peter ten Hoopen’s very informative website.

If you are able to visit Lisbon (which is a charming city) before 25 January 2015 when the exhibition closes it is well worth visiting a contrasting exhibition of Japanese boro textiles (‘BORO: Fabric of Life’ at MUDE - Museu do Design e da Moda) - see separate review at viewtopic.php?f=3&t=2521 . A splendid exhibition in its own right and a very interesting contrast of cloths representing the huge value placed on special textiles even though they are created from patches of fragments of cloth at the very end of their lives and worn by the poorest of the poor. ‘Woven languages’ represents the value placed on the highest ceremonial and heirloom textiles for largely ceremonial wear at absolutely the other end of the scale. Both exhibitions endorse the significance of cloth whether for the absolute necessity of everyday use or at the centre of the cultural life of the wearers. For a textile obsessive such as myself this very much reinforced my core beliefs in the most enjoyable and informative way!


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Pamela

http://www.tribaltextiles.info
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 30, 2014 3:36 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jun 26, 2012 11:18 pm
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Dear all,

Of course I am very happy with Pamela's glowing review, and I strongly endorse her encouragement to come and see it. There are several cloths so rare that you are not likely to see another in your lifetime. Possible, but not likely.

I accept Pamela's criticism re the missing measures. We had intended to include them and in the last editorial meeting before the final lay-out decided where they would go, but somehow they did not get put in and during the proofreading I did not notice. Mea culpa. But as Pamela says, if you go to the relevant Pusaka Collection website, you shall find the measures of each cloth, both in metric and imperial.

Indeed, Chris Buckley was so kind as to let me use one of his excellent images showing the ikat process. In fact he was so generous as to let me use any number, but given the limitations of the size and my ambition to cover the entire archipelago, we could only use one. The Boro exhibition is a great additional reason to come to Lisbon. I had never seen this type of textile before, so it was a pleasant surprise.

Enjoy,
Peter

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Peter ten Hoopen
www.ikat.us

PUSAKA COLLECTION: ONLINE MUSEUM OF TRADITIONAL INDONESIAN IKAT TEXTILES


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 30, 2014 4:51 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jun 29, 2003 1:42 pm
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Location: Canterbury, UK
Can I please highlight a couple of special opportunities on the Museo do Oriente website (in Portuguese but I have checked the content with Peter) http://www.museudooriente.pt/2097/lingu ... FJocfmDkus

Peter, who does not live in Lisbon, has made arrangements to be at the exhibition on 15 November 2014 at 11:00 hrs and on 16th January 2015 at 18:30 hrs to give a personal tour of the exhibition. I know that at least one forum couple will be on the November visit. The Museo do Oriente website asks for pre-booking which Peter says is not strictly necessary but advisable. Although the textile captions are very useful and the catalogue informative it is a great privilege to tour the exhibition with the collector. I was lucky enough to enjoy the company of Peter and his wife in the exhibition on the morning before the opening. As we know from this forum, Peter is extremely knowledgeable and, of course, loves his textiles!

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http://www.tribaltextiles.info
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