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PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2014 6:35 am 
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Hi people, in 1994 I found this tube sarung in Kalabahi on Alor Island....seller said it was from Ternate Island - does this look right ? I have also seen ikats from Lembata Island which look almost identical to this in the motifs and colouring. It measures 118 cm x 66 cm and looks to be all handspun with all veg dyes....got a nice stiff & heavy feel to it, doesn't appear to have been used much. Motifs look similar to another sarung I procured ( and said to have been from Ternate with deep brown & blue colours ) but the main colours are mainly medium red-brown on this one. Or is it that Ternate textiles are so revered/famous there that they try to pass off everything as a Ternate piece ? I would welcome comments. Cheers - Steven.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 03, 2015 8:05 am 
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I can't seem to find, in any of my research on Alor textiles, a local term ( other than the Indonesian "sarung" ) for these ikat weavings. I assume that the term "kewatek" is principally used on Lembata, and possibly Solor & Adonara...and realize that there are many local languages & dialects in this part of NTT ( plus lots of inter-island trading and immigration ) so there might be several terms used locally for a woman's tube sarung on Alor. Not to mention that east Alor (Kolana) hosts very different languages too. So is it difficult to assign an absolutely correct local term ( other than "sarung" ) to these textiles of west Alor or is "kewatek" appropriate ? Any enlightenment would be most appreciated, cheers - Steve.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 10, 2015 11:52 am 
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Location: Japan
Steve, Good to hear from you again. It seems your post of a year ago never got a response and I don't remember seeing it. Textiles from this general area of NTT are very confusing. In some cases it is easy to pinpoint where a textile was made and sometimes when the piece doesn't fit any of the well known templates it is very difficult. This is one of the difficult ones. It could be Ternate as I don't have a template for that island but could just as well be from Pantar or I guess western Alor.

What I can tell you is that the piece looks hand spun with natural colors except for the colored stripes which look to me to be chemically dyed commercial thread. As the piece seems to have some age, perhaps pre war, these threads may be what is called Benang Belanda or Dutch trade thread. If you look closely these threads appear much thinner than the other threads of the textile which look like drop spindle, hand spun thread. The red, pink, purple and yellow colors seem chemical and typical of Benang Belanda.

The blue and red ikat motifs on an over dyed background in the main bands seem typical of Pantar but could also be typical of pre-war pieces from Turnate although textiles made more recently and said to be from Ternate seem a bit different. Age I think is an important factor as textile styles change from generation to generation and those produced in an area 70 or 80 years ago may be different in color or pattern from what is produced in the same area now. I would have to go through my libraries and compare your textile to my photos in the Pantar, Alor and ternate folders.

The textile seems rather short at 118 cm. as most skirts are closer to 150 cm. so this might be a clue. The rather simple stripes and ikat dashes in the center field would also be something to look for and compare. As for a local name for your textile I would guess that the Lamaholot term kewatek would probably apply. In NW Alor the Austronesian speakers in the Alor Kecil, Sebanjar area use the term Kewatek and I would guess that term applies on Ternate as well. Other groups on Alor do not speak Austronesian but Papuan languages so would use other terms I think. I can not give you any of these just off hand though. Sorry I haven't been of much help. I will fish around in my files and ask a few friends who are knowledgeable and see what I can come up with.

Best regards


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 14, 2015 1:54 pm 
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Thanks for your comments MAC, agreed the deep electric reds & other thin bands are probably "benang belanda". Regarding the motifs, yes it seems that over time the weavers come up with variations and probably develop new themes especially for the tourist trade. Nowadays Alor is actually on the tourist map, particularly for scuba-diving ( apparently westerners have already set up at least one small diving resort ) so the Alor weavers seem to be catering for western tastes and weaving lots of small "selendang" from commercial thread & dyes overtly ikatted with simple fish & sea-creature motifs. Fortunately there are still some traditional kewatek being woven with handspun thread ( but less commonly....Julie Emery from "Timor Treasures" notes this tendency, as she has started working with Alor weavers over the past couple of years too....and on her website store you can see examples of both types of these Alor weavings ). In fact I noticed she currently has a handspun kewatek with similar dimensions and motifs to this cloth of mine, except hers is predominantly blue ( and the provenance is definitely Alor, she even names the weaver...although I'd have to ask her which village it comes from to be more precise ). Look forward to any other information you may come across in your archives etc....regards - Steve.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2015 1:16 pm 
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Steve, Just had an email from Julie and the blue sarong she has on her site, which is listed as from Alor, she says she got on Ternate Island in 2006 so that strengthens the idea that your piece is also from Ternate. Your kewatek is surly older and this may account for the use of red rather than blue and more intricate ikat stripes in the center. Perhaps Julie will post her piece here for comparison.

Best regards


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2015 1:31 pm 
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MAC, very quick follow-up there mate....great work. All goes towards the knowledge pool and certainly helps me to better understand some of my collection. In fact now I have more faith in the supposed provenance of another (blue-tone) "Ternate" piece that I had posted in this section too. Thanks so much for your help. Regards - Steve.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2015 1:55 pm 
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Location: Sunshine Coast , Australia
Good sleuthing you two. And as chance has it Steve I am sitting in a grass roofed hut listening to the waves of Alor straight right now. Yes there are now 3 dive places in Alor although the textiles began to change 20 years ago when I first came here as there were yachts arriving with tourists who wanted textiles hence the 'quicker' more bold motifs of the fish and turtles. Elephants and their ivory have a long history in Alor along with the Moko drums as bride prices. In fact Moko drum is what some of the motif work on your kewatek is. The other is (I believe) the pohon bringin (tree of life) or giant fig tree motif. Deer are also present and now crabs are making an appearance along with some other sea creatures. I will take some images of the textiles that are on offer here in La Pet'te Kepa, overlooking Ternate, Pura and Buaya and just a small boat ride from Alor Kecil. Anne displays textiles from Ternate here for the dive clients. Remind me when I get home in a week or so to post the blue handspun that Mac found on my website to this forum OK. Gotta go to bed.....up early for snorkeling. Cheers

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 17, 2015 3:45 am 
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Location: Sunshine Coast , Australia
Images from Ternate 2015 as promised :) Any requests be quick, I am on the plane to Kupang in the morning. Although the motif work is not a patch on what it used to be I am sooooo happy to see the ladies still spinning cotton and creating new colours from their surrounds and maintaining their culture through the motifs still in use. Yipes looks like I need to make my images smaller.Sorry...Will co next time.


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