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PostPosted: Fri Oct 31, 2014 4:04 pm 
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Dear all,

A few months ago I acquired a Batak ulos from an old Dutch collection that I find rather appealing, first on account of its overall classy appearance, 'deftig', bergaya; then on account of its beautiful tonality and tight weaving; and on the fine stripes of additional weft in gold thread which I have not seen before, and which do have the obviously intended effect of adding cachet. Given its provenance it must be late 19th or early 20th C.

Attachment:
File comment: Batak ulos with supplementary weft in gold thread
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Attachment:
File comment: Detail of batak ulos showing supplementary weft in gold thread
ikat_174_detail.jpg
ikat_174_detail.jpg [ 280.58 KiB | Viewed 8757 times ]


The thread is very fine hand spun - so fine that I originally found it hard to believe that it was not benang belanda, but repeated checks confirmed its 'handspunness', except for a few very narrow pinstripes in red, yellow, orange and white, most of which are only two threads wide.

My understanding is that this type of ulos was reserved for high ranking families, and that it was used in marriage ceremonies: to ceremonially unite husband and wife. The father of the bride would wrap the ulos around the couple's shoulders to promote fertility. The stripes with gold thread, I was told, represent spotted rattan. Desk research leads me to identify this as an ulos bintang maratur. Question: is that the correct term? (Pamela, Sandra, anyone?)

Best wishes,
Peter

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 02, 2014 4:42 pm 
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Hi Peter

An interesting Batak cloth. I had been hoping that Sandra would comment....

The ikat and supplementary weft looks quite well done and the ikat only wanders a little in a few bands.

Off the top of my head it didn't immediately strike me as a Bintang maratur. However, I have tried to go carefully through Sandra's 'Legacy in cloth' and was struck by her comment in section Cat 6.1 Bintang Martur/Marotur Design Types on on page 312:
Quote:
"All of the textiles in Cat 6.1 are from Toba Batak style regions, including Si Tolu Huta. All are called bintang maratur, but the diversity of these textiles, in size, colouring, striped patterning and even in their characteristic ikat patterning is considerable.

The ritual status and popularity of this textile, its predominantly blue colouring and the great number of variations of this design type suggest that, like other indigo textiles see Cat 1, the Bintang Maratur types may number among the oldest in the Batak textile repertory see also Meerwaldt1919; Myers u.p.:174.

For me it is a shame that I can't see that the textile has any end twining (always something I particularly look for) or finely twisted fringe especially as it has nice ikat and weaving. My first thought seeing the red of the textile, no twining and the metal threads was that it might be for Karo rather than Toba Batak but this was purely a gut thought, no more!

My own bintang maratur textiles are all (mainly) blue - i.e. blue central field with ikat. They have the weft bands right across the whole textile as yours but only a few such bands and not in metalic yarn. Yours has blue warp stripes of ikat, as one would expect, but the intervening plain stripes would appear to be deep maroon red as are the side panels. (My own much more modern Karo textiles are very dark maroon (possibly red over-dyed with blue) with incorporated quite wide metal weft bands - only in the central field - and end twinging and twisted fringes. These were probably woven by Toba for the Karo market.)

One thing I become more and more aware of is the sheer diversity of Batak textiles, especially older ones, once one tries to pin down identification. There is a general 'feel' of Batakness (my made up word, sorry :wink: ) but so many subtle differences/nuances which must be down to the individual weaver influenced perhaps by her family or village.

I am afraid that I have not been of much help!

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2014 10:40 am 
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Peter, May I ask if the threads are single ply? What sort of checks did you do to determine that it is hand spun? Hand spun thread can be produced using a drop spindle or a spinning wheel and I like to call drop spindle thread HAND SPUN and that produced on a wheel WHEEL SPUN. Drop spindle thread is usually easy to identify as it is thicker, rather uneven and not so tightly twisted. Wheel spun thread can be very thin, even and more tightly twisted. The one thing they both usually have in common is that they are almost always single ply while commercially spun thread is almost always 2 (or more) ply. I believe the Batak originally used the drop spindle and then at some point the spinning wheel was introduced so I presume that both types of thread might be found.

I also find it unusual that there seems to be no twined end borders and that the fringes are not twisted which Pamela also noted. The colors seem deep and natural and it is a lovely cloth but I can't be any help on what type of ulos it might be, sorry. Thanks for sharing it with us and let's hope that Sandra will find time to comment.

Best regards


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2014 12:39 pm 
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Hallo Mac,

The thread is single ply. All I did to determine that it was hand spun (or perhaps wheel spun as you like to call it), was feel for irregularities - which there are. In the meantime I have found a very similar cloth in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, which calls it an ulos mangiring. Unfortunately the Art Gallery of NSW is not always reliable in its scholarship, so I do not want to fully rely on their identification. Unfortunately the photo is very low res. It does show a cloth clearly of the same type, but with eighteen rather than nineteen bands, and probably without the gold thread (which is also not mentioned in the description). No age is given for the cloth. Note that the fringes have been done in exactly the same way as on my piece: loosely twisted. Perhaps this is characteristic of the type. In the description it says: "Used as a carrying cloth, it would have been presented by the maternal grandparent on the birth of their daughter's first child." This matches information that I have found on this site: http://tano-batak.blogspot.pt/search/label/Batak%20Textile%20%2F%20Ulos%20Batak (No pictures come up, unfortunately.) Here the text reads: "From the Batak people of central Sumatra, a handwoven ikat cloth called ulos mangiring. Ulos mangiring are always deep red or maroon and feature solid side panels and a central area defined with small pinstripes in different colors. The mangiring serves as the ulos parompa, or carrying cloth, that is presented by the maternal grandparents on the birth of their daughter's first child. It is also seen as a head cloth on festive occasions." So I guess that if the identification turns out to be correct, the function is probably fairly well established. As you note, the colour is very deep, and must have required prolonged steeping in the dye.

Kind regards,
Peter


Attachments:
File comment: Ulos Mangiring - Art Gallery NSW 249.2000
Ikat - Batak - Ulos mangiring - Art Gallery NSW 249.2000.jpg
Ikat - Batak - Ulos mangiring - Art Gallery NSW 249.2000.jpg [ 84.43 KiB | Viewed 8717 times ]

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2014 2:22 pm 
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Sorry, Pamela/Peter, I had not got around to responding to this post about a Batak textile.

Unfortunately I can't say much about it because it is not clear what the ikat patterns are. The name of the cloth is likely to derive from the ikat patterning.

You mentioned that it is not clear how the twining looks and I agree; it is important to see the patterns to determine the provenance.

The nature of the stripes between the panels is also not clear and this feature is also important for determining provenance. The white edging of the cloth suggests that it is Toba.

Indeed, as Peter mentions, the yarn in handspun Batak textiles could be a fine as in machine spun yarn (why would you call it benang Belanda, Peter? Is the benang from Belanda? How do you know?) I can't see if the yarn is handspun.

The gold supplementary yarn is well-depicted but I can't determine whether it is gold yarn wrapped around a cotton core. Alas, I can't see the difference between this gold yarn and gold synthetic yarn in modern Karo pieces. Those are significant issues to be able to say something about value and age.

The cloth looks very modern and Karo in the general alternation of supplementary gold yarn and ikat, but without a detail of the ikat, I'm afraid I am not able to make any valid comparisons. If this is an old Toba cloth, it could be rather significant because it is rare, but, again, alas, I am not able to say a single thing about it.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 03, 2014 10:23 pm 
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Dear Sandra, Pamela, others,
I only just now notice Sandra Niessen's post - did not receive the alert. Let's try to sort things out a little. A slight misunderstanding has arisen, perhaps due to unfortunte phrasing. Actually I never said that I thought it was benang belanda, but rather that I felt it was not, being hand spun, either by spindle or wheel, who knows. I clearly feel the slight irregularities that mark hand spun yarn.

The gold yarn is gold leaf wrapped around a cotton core. The cloth certainly does not appear 'modern' to me, unless we use the word in the sense of some antiquarians, who take the death of Napolean as the birth of modernity. In fact it looks and feels quite old. Early 20th C. to me seems a safe bet, and matches its provenance from an old Dutch collection. I am attaching a few more close-ups that were shot last week.

Hope this sheds some light onto this dark cloth. I would still very much like to know the proper name for this type of cloth, and its provenance in as much detail as possible. Thanks in advance for any help with these issues.

Best wishes,
Peter


Attachment:
File comment: PC 174 detail 1
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File comment: PC 174 detail 2
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File comment: PC 174 detail 3
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 07, 2014 7:57 am 
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Hi Peter,
Thank you for your attentive reply to this Batak thread. The photographs are wonderfully clear and it is possible to respond to your questions.

In the first place, I highly doubt that the textile is a Bintang Maratur. I believe that this is one of the instances in which the textile is named after the colour and the supplementary weft patterning. Do you own my book, Legacy in cloth? On page 350 I depict two variants of the Sigaragara textile - named after its red colour. The variant on the left has twenty rows of gold supplementary weft (Jongkit duapulu) and the variant on the right has nine rows (jongkit ose). The ikat and supplementary weft patterning alternate as in your textile. The ikat in the jongkit duapulu is the same as the ikat in your textile. Indeed, this is an ikat pattern that may be found in the Bintang Maratur, but the Bintang Maratur is not limited to this ikat pattern as your cloth is.

Interestingly, your cloth seems to have 21 rows of supplementary weft patterning.

The red and yellow stripes that you depict bordering the white edge of the cloth are comprised of three warp ends each, not two. This kind of striping is not found in the Karo textiles that I depict in Legacy; it is typical of Toba Batak textiles and weaving. If you look at the next page of Legacy, you will see a Jungkit Siwa typical of the Si Tolu Huta region, technically a Toba Batak region. Alas, I did not provide details of the stripes, but you can see that the cloth is constructed just as your cloth is constructed: a narrow selvedge edge having the same red ground colour as is found in the body of the cloth, followed by a wide, white stripe, followed by pin-stripes marking the border between this "cloth edge" and the plain sides of the cloth. On page 478 of Legacy I include an analysis of stripes and I write:
"Groups of three warp yarns of various colours can be combined to create compound stripes to mark the border between sides and centre of the textile." Obviously, in this case, they mark the border between edge and textile 'sides' (sisi).

The motifs in the supplementary weft of your textile look typical (from what I can see of them) of the Si Tolu Huta area that borders Toba and Karo. This could represent influence from Aceh but I do not know enough about the weaving traditions North of Batak to really say anything conclusive about this.

If you thumb through Legacy's catalogue section, you will notice that not all Batak supplementary weft stretches from selvedge to selvedge as it does in your textile and as, for example, in my Bintang Maratur on page 313. My jongkit siwa have supplementary weft in the centre panel only (p. 350 - 351), and this is generally the case. However, on p. 224 and 225, there are Ulos Angkola with supplementary weft running from selvedge edge to selvedge edge. This is found in Toba and in Si Tolu Huta. On page 206 there is a Simangkatangkat with Si Tolu Huta supplementary weft that has some similarities with that in your cloth, and again it runs from selvedge edge to selvedge edge.

I sense that I must come and "feel" your cloth. When I look at your photographs, I am struck by the gold yarn which is rare in Batak textiles and may very well be an indication of age. However, the appearance of the cloth, otherwise, just as I mentioned in my first reaction, is quite modern to me. That the yarns feel "slubby" is not necessarily an indication of the yarn having been handspun. The coarse yarn that used to come from the TD Pardede factory in Medan produced slubby yarn. From the photograph, it does not look to me like the main red/brown ground is dyed with natural Morinda citrifolia. It strikes me as odd to have a handspun cloth coloured with synthetic dye. So I would want to check this.

I have been a bit "langdradig" in my answer. Your cloth remains a bit of a mystery to me. I still wonder if it is an early example of the Jongkit duapulu and I suspect it is from Si Tolu Huta.

I could now go on a miserable, heartfelt and sad rant about how people collect because they want to get "the stuff" and do not record from whom the cloth came, which family owned it, where it was made. This is women's history. When just the cloth is collected, it is devalued. It would have so much more relevance as an historical item, as an example (potentially) of weaver creativity, if information were collected with the same kind of eagerness as the cloth itself. Frankly, I feel quite miserable when I see undocumented textiles and zealous collecting just to get "the piece". Indigenous history is flowing away like sand through the fingers as the "last remaining pieces" are taken out of context without the relevant information. I know, I know, everybody always responds with "I bought it from a dealer, so I couldn't get anymore information than I have". But the "dealers" then? And their runners?

And now an apology that I have not attached pictures. If required, let me know, and I will start scanning Legacy. The search for my Legacy photographs is always so time-consuming. [See following post - Pamela]

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 07, 2014 10:59 am 
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Sandra,

In the interests of an illustrated forum thread on a subject very dear to my heart I am adding photos which match your post immediately above. In doing so, I am assuming that is OK as you offer to search for the photos yourself. (If not I will instantly delete!) As you know, I have some PDF files of chapters of Legacy and it is from these that I have taken the images. They are not, I think, top quality as printed. Also, in some cases, the images don't show the full photo as in the book as the image is split into two files within the Pdf file. In the images I post I have mostly picked just one of these two images (sorry things are truncated!) except for the last cloth shown. (If posting only half of an image gives misleading or very incomplete information then I will endeavour to re-post).

Thank you, Sandra, for the information which is very detailed and helpful. Now I need to carefully re-read together with the images and the text AND the images of Peter's cloth and then, hopefully, digest!

The more I see and learn of Batak textiles the more complex I see them to be! No easy labelling; no 'one name fits all'! I so very much wish that we had the provenance with our textiles. Even some of the group of textiles with lots of provenance that I have from one Toba Batak family have lost their original names as the makers died before their inheritors sold them on. Help was sought from 'seniors' across the extended family but it was too late. Cloths woven in the first decade of the 20th century and sold by a granddaughter (to provide herself with a pension) had lost their names.


Attachments:
File comment: page 350 - fig. Cat 6.14b sigaragara jongkit duwa puluh (black version). Half cloth. 174◊103 cm + fringe 12 cm. Collection S. Niessen. Photograph Irene de Groot. Purchased new on the Kaban Jahe market in 1986. The lozenge ikat is very narrow.
6.14b copy.jpg
6.14b copy.jpg [ 72.41 KiB | Viewed 8575 times ]
File comment: page 350 - fig. Cat 6.14c (top of image) sigaragara jungkit ose (black version). Half cloth. 168◊103 cm + fringe 11 cm. Collection S. Niessen. Photograph Irene de Groot. Karo textile purchased new on the Kaban Jahe market in 1986.
6.14c copy.jpg
6.14c copy.jpg [ 41.32 KiB | Viewed 8575 times ]
File comment: page 351 - top half of image - fig. Cat 6.14d jungkit siwah. Whole cloth. 173◊102 cm + fringe 9 cm. Collection S. Niessen. Photograph Irene de Groot. A Si Tolu Huta textile as evident from the supplementary-weft patterns.
6.14d copy.jpg
6.14d copy.jpg [ 75.96 KiB | Viewed 8575 times ]
File comment: Page 224 - fig. Cat 2.3a ragi angkola. Whole cloth. 130◊75 cm. Collection Thomas Murray. The cloth has elaborate beadwork. The patterns were introduced during the colonial era.
2.3.a.t.jpg
2.3.a.t.jpg [ 49.32 KiB | Viewed 8575 times ]
File comment: page 225 - fig. Cat 2.3b ragi angkola. Half cloth. 130◊75 cm. Collection S. Niessen. Photograph Irene de Groot. The cloth has supplementary weft and beadwork.
2.3.b.jpg
2.3.b.jpg [ 58.71 KiB | Viewed 8575 times ]
File comment: page 206 - top of split image - fig. Cat 1.5.3 simangkatangkat.
1.5.3h.t.jpg
1.5.3h.t.jpg [ 33.73 KiB | Viewed 8575 times ]
File comment: page 206 - bottom of split image - fig. Cat 1.5.3 simangkatangkat. Half cloth and details. 175◊60 cm + fringe 25 cm. Collection S. Niessen. Photograph Irene de Groot. The textile was made by boru Purba of Silalahi, in Si Tolu Huta. A proficient weaver, she made this textile around 1945 and set about making another when I purchased it from her.
1.5.3.t.jpg
1.5.3.t.jpg [ 47.52 KiB | Viewed 8575 times ]

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 07, 2014 12:11 pm 
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Bless you, Pamela, for going to all that trouble for me. I have my Legacy images on a separate drive and numbered in a way that doesn't correspond to the Legacy numbering and in such high resolution that I can't just flip through them. You have saved me hours of work. You truly are amazing.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 07, 2014 4:39 pm 
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Dear Sandra and Pamela,

Thank you both for helping to resolve my puzzle, and providing so much information. First let me apologize Sandra that I do not own your Legacy in Cloth. I have only one other Batak cloth, and my interest in the area is only just awakening. The acquisition of this piece under discussing actually has done much to alert me, as I find it both beautiful and intriguing. What I never realized before is how many variants of Batak cloths exist, how what might seem very minor differences can imply major distinctions, and how hard it is to say anything about them with complete certainty without having access to the weavers' proprietary information, either directly or handed down. (Very much the same applies to Iban cloths!) I am therefore in full agreement with your 'rant' - the one that you decided not to go into, but went into deep enough for us to get the message. The sad reality of course is that especially in the older days cloths were collected without much cognizance of their ethnographic, artistic or even historic meaning, and chosen simply on account of their visual appeal, as souvenirs of journeys or residence (very common of course in the 'Bataklanden' and nearby). How long ago is it that ikat began to be looked at with some degree of seriousness, scholarship - I mean beyond a few isolated studies? If always feel that the Irene Emery Round Table in 1979 was the spark that got the fire going. So, only 35 years ago. Not a long time for a complex field. And in several areas we have only one in-depth source. Such as Marianne van Vuuren for Tanimbar, James J. Fox for Roti, Genevi>eve Duggan for Savu, and yes Sandra Niessen for Batak.

To get back to my cloth, unless my eyes or my mind are deceiving me, actually there are twenty rows of gold supplementary weft, making it, I suppose a jongkit duapuluh. You sense that you must come and 'feel' my cloth. Excellent idea, you are more than welcome. If you do come, perhaps it would be best to come to the Woven Languages Exhibition at the Museu do Oriente in Lisbon, which still runs till 25 January 2015. I have a guided tour (in Portuguese) planned in the early evening of 16 January, and I would have plenty of time to show you around either in the afternoon or in the morning of the 17th. As I am sure Pamela told you, there are quite a few remarkable ikats there. The ulos under discussion is not at the show, but of course I would bring it. (My other ulos is at the show.)

Then we have the issue of dating. There were of course quite a few pieces already returning with colonials before the second world war, but the last came I believe in 1956 when the last Dutch were thrown out. So as the piece was described to me as having come from an old Dutch collection, we have to presume pre-1956. But the cloth feels older - at least to me. The thread seems quite brittle, and as for slubby - I am not sure how you would define slubby as opposed to say 'lumpy'. I have photographed one of the threads which shows a rather strong irregularity in width. Mind you this is not a typical thread; most are far smoother. But it stretches my imagination that a machine would have produced this, even a crappy old Medanese one.

Attachment:
File comment: Detail of thread - admittedly an exceptionally uneven one.
ikat_new_174_thread_01_enh_02.jpg
ikat_new_174_thread_01_enh_02.jpg [ 187.78 KiB | Viewed 8570 times ]


As I am a stickler for factual reporting (journalistic background), I would love to be able to nail this piece down to one particular type, one particular region. I do feel that we are getting very close. Would it be correct to say that is is probably an ulos sigaragara jongkit duwa puluh, probably from the Si Tolu Huta area bordering Toba and Karo? Then as for its use: is it likely to have been used as an ulos parompa, a carrying cloth? The original label, one of those yellowish affairs with a ringed hole for the thread to attach it to the cloth, said it was used during marriage ceremonies, when the father of the bride would wrap it over the shoulders of the pair to promote fertility. Is this likely? If so, what would such a cloth be called?

Again, thank you both for all the work put in. And Sandra, I hope to see you in Lisbon, otherwise perhaps at my place in the South one day.

Best wishes,
Peter

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 07, 2014 5:14 pm 
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...yes, the Batak textile hanging in his 'Woven Languages' Exhibition at the Museu do Oriente in Lisbon was definitely a fine one. See it at http://www.ikat.us/ikat_057.php in Peter's collection on-line. I spent quite a time enjoying it at the exhibition.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 11, 2014 3:22 am 
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Dear Peter,

Thank you for your thoughtful and kind response. I am glad that you felt that the information was useful. I think that your summary of the cloth (probably made in Si Tolu Huta and somehow linked to the Jongkit Duapulu) about sums up what I thought. (By the way, I write Duapulu intentionally. The Indonesian is duapuluh but the Batak is duapulu so it wasn't a spelling error. Bataks don't have a final aspirant.)

I would love to come and feel up your cloth, as it were, but I suspect I will be going to Indonesia rather than Portugal in January. Alas, I was in Portugal shortly before your exhibition went up.

The matter of the thread is crucial. Slub yarn has thicker and thinner sections. The yarn you depicted is very, very fine and seems to have slubs. I don't know what to do with a microscope image, however, as it is not my area of training. I would have to come and have a feel. :) That the yarn is brittle suggests, indeed, that it is quite old. Synthetic dyes made their way into Batak very early on, so the colourful yarns could well have been combined with with hand spun yarn.

The official name of the cloth, based on its appearance, would not change relative to its function. Batak cloths have two names; one is the name based on appearance and one is the name based on ritual use. A parompa is indeed a carrying cloth for a child -- but it is also the name for a cloth when it is given ritually to welcome a child to its new family. It doesn't mean that it was necessarily used to carry the child, except on that illustrious ritual day. This cloth is finer than a regular parompa that is used day-to-day and which the child pees in and is carried in. The cloths of least status are used for such day-to-day work. The gold in this cloth makes it high status -- and it would have been quite fitting, in that regard, to use during a wedding ceremony. Or to be worn by a person of high status. A Batak cloth doesn't necessarily have only a single function. All cloths given ritually are a source and expression of blessings from the wife-giver to the wife-taker, whether wrapped around the shoulders of the wedded pair or given to celebrate the arrival of their child. It is a strengthener of the soul, truly a blessing. the name of the cloth wrapped around the wedded pair would depend on who is giving it. I have a section in Legacy devoted to that.

Legacy is now out of print. I have a few copies left, which I sell for 100 euro. You can also get it on Amazon, sometimes for a nice bargain.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 13, 2014 11:03 am 
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Sandra

Very many thanks for your considered and helpful response in your latest contribution to this thread.

In our eagerness to pin down the name and function of our textiles it is such a mistake to try to pigeon-hole everything into one textile name. It is very helpful that you stress that Batak textiles have two names: one related to pattern and the other to ritual use. I found it very useful that in 'Legacy in cloth' that, within the Catalogue section, you break out each design type into: Name, Provenance, Descriptive Summary, Design Highlights and Function. It is very interesting how a cloth, even within function, may have several uses. For example, on page 197, Catalogue 1.3.3 TEBA may have several functions:
Quote:
"Clothing functions:
- headcloth (tudung) for middle aged and old women of high social standing fig. SR 3.4
- shouldercloth for men fig. SR 3.4
- hipcloth for Karo and Pakpak women fig SR 3.4
- worn ritually by women when they return from a 'washing ceremony' (erpangir kulau, a purifcation rite) to dance in the house, and during marriage and mortuary rites fig SR 3.10
- parompa or baby carrier fig.Des 4.1"

To complicate things further, this same Cat. 1.3.3. has three entries under Design Type Name:
Quote:
TEBA
- teba (Karo): Toba. The name suggests that this textile originated in Toba.
UWIS TOBA
Name used in Fischer's catalogue 1914a:45
BOLEAN
Name used by weavers in Si Tolu Huta.

Even Provenance is not completely straightforward!
Quote:
- Si Tolu Huta
At the time of my fieldwork, it was being made by weavers in Silalahi, Paropo and Tongging for the Karo market.
- Karo
The Karo also wove this design type Fischeer 1914a:45

Sandra, 'Legacy in cloth' is so packed with information so much of which might perhaps be termed 'nuanced'. I have found that it is only when I start to apply the information to one particular textile that I realise just how much you have crammed in! I remember all the extremely hard work over such a long and concentrated period that you spent with designer Marie-Cecile Noordzij-Pulles back and forth on the layout so that all the information could be concentrated down into one book, albeit a weighty tome! The aim was clarity and consistency all within the desire for an aesthetically satisfying end result. When I have typed the quotes from the text I haven't included the consistent red in caps for the textile name and the blue of references elsewhere in the book within an overall black text. One of the things I particularly like are the thumbnail photos included in the Catalogue section from images elsewhere in the book, often from old photos where someone is shown actually wearing/using the textile or it might be a weaving detail.

In many ways 'Legacy' is overwhelming in the amount of detail crammed between its restrained black cloth covers. It is just too much to try and take in. I must say that I take my hat off to you again and again in how you have captured such a breadth of complexity in the culture of Batak cloths. It most definitely is not easy for the reader - it takes a great flexibility of mind to cope at all!!! It is really multiple doctoral theses merged together which should not surprise anyone since it is based on 30 years of research!

Sorry, I have come over all over 'Legacy groupie' and had better stop, for now at least :wink: !

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Pamela

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


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 14, 2014 6:02 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jun 26, 2012 11:18 pm
Posts: 110
Location: Portugal
Dear all,

Let me put in a rectification of sorts, or rather a clarification. One reader of this forum took issue with my statement "The sad reality of course is that especially in the older days cloths were collected without much cognizance of their ethnographic, artistic or even historic meaning, and chosen simply on account of their visual appeal, as souvenirs of journeys or residence (very common of course in the 'Bataklanden' and nearby). How long ago is it that ikat began to be looked at with some degree of seriousness, scholarship - I mean beyond a few isolated studies?" The forum member wrote to me in private saying: "Peter, You are insinuating that the numerous old European colonial collections and the comprehensive studies that were based upon them are frivolous relative to today's ‘erudite’ scholarship? My my!" He next brought up a short list of older publications, including an early Bühler.

It was a very gentlemanly thing to do, to send this critical note not in a post but via the contact page on my website, but as I feel he may not be the only one to have misread me, I would like to share the crux of my response: "Dear ...., You are misreading my text. I am not insinuating anything of the kind. I am just saying that many pieces were brought to the west by people who had no scholarly interest whatever: by missionaries, early tourists, civil servants and plantations administrators for instance. Many of these pieces later came to market as inheritances were sold. The titles you indicate are indeed some of those isolated cases, very limited in number compared to the number of studies that we have seen published in the last forty, fifty years.

Hope this helps clarify the issue. For those who do not know the reality first hand, let me add that several of the old collections, including those in the Netherlands, unfortunately do not have complete or even always accurate basic information on all the cloths in their possession. Several curators have confirmed this to me first hand, and shared their dismay about this situation, which they are incapable of remedying without serious increases in staffing - which would require a 180 degree reversal of current trends. Some of the lots they received (such as the two hundred years old Timor cloths held by Rijksmuseum Volkenkunde in Leiden that Ruth Barnes mentions in her contribution to Fowler's Textiles of Timor) were very well documented, but the same museum also has lots that were received with hardly any documentation, or with documentation that was close to correct, but a little bit off, due to the ignorance of those who did the collecting. We find the same in other institutions. A Solor cloth may for instance have a 'Larantuka' provenance as it was in this port city where is was acquired, along with perhaps an Adonara or Sikka cloth equally labeled 'Larantuka'. Textiles from the southern Moluccas are sometimes labeled 'Timor' for the same reason. This phenomenon is not limited of course to Volkenkunde. Nearly all older museums that hold ethnological collections have many more pieces than, with the current staff levels, can be adequately studied and described. Which is why I have been arguing the case for consolidation for some time, and why consolidation is actually taking place in some countries, such as the Netherlands. It is better to have one large national collection that allows focused scholarship to blossom, than to have six or seven smaller institutions with more fragmentary collections.

Enough said. The point I was trying to make is that scholarship in the field of Indonesian ikat - while not exactly young as the critical writer stresses correctly - is only beginning to take off in earnest, and still leaves many areas understudied, or even a total blank. Which is why we should be very appreciative of the work of people like Sandra Niessen and the others I mentioned, who have covered one particular area in enough depth to help us in our studies of the great and often bewildering profusion of its textiles.

Best wishes,
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: Sun Dec 14, 2014 6:11 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jun 26, 2012 11:18 pm
Posts: 110
Location: Portugal
Dear Sandra,
Once again thank you for your helpful comments, which help me understand what kind of cloth I have. It is very helpful for instance to learn that Batak ulos were not all limited to one particular use. This was actually the impression I had got from my limited reading. I have never bought your book because I have only 2 Batak pieces and to buy the bible on the subject seemed a bit overdone, but I am getting more intrigued as I learn more about the pieces I have and I shall definitely scour Antiqbook and a few small suppliers who are not globally listed. Sometimes one can get really lucky. Af for the yarn, let's conclude that they jury is still out. Let's hope one day you can 'feel it up' as you say. In the meantime I shall bring out my small digital microscope to see what I can learn. Pamela seems to be good at analyzing microscopic images.

Have a great Christmas season,
Peter

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Peter ten Hoopen
www.ikat.us

PUSAKA COLLECTION: ONLINE MUSEUM OF TRADITIONAL INDONESIAN IKAT TEXTILES


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