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PostPosted: Mon Jun 07, 2004 7:36 pm 
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Thanks again for the useful information Pamela.

I have the 1998 reprint of that book you mentioned. I think I got it from Ebay. I'm hoping to find one devoted to the beadwork. I hope you found the exhibit as interesting as I did. The wife of one my dealer friends in Kuching is Peranakan so I will try to get more information from her next time I am there.

And thanks for your encouragement to post more textiles. I'll post a couple more ikats and take your suggestion to open a new thread.
Or is that something you do? Not sure yet how to do such things.

Anyway here is another charming Kantu' skirt. Perhaps the most wonderfully whimsical of the skirts and with 3 reflection lines or a four fold skirt. Of handspun threads and possible aniline dyes. Circa 1900. 5 ikat borders on each side. The 10 paired or coupled insect-like forms are reminiscent of dragonflies (or perhaps those little bugs we call "water skeeters" that glide over the surface of still water) mating in flight and seem to move between the sinuous long thin forms which again may represent serpents or the path of a boat tacking across a strong river flow or most likely jungle creepers (Ong, PUA, p. 69, B6). In lieu of any immediate strong directional design orientation, the weaver has provided a very subtle orientation key of the tiny paired circles (mata or "eyes"?) at only one warp end almost at the top end of the design as pictured. And again, although at first glance the design seems symmetric on either side of the warp center, in fact it is not. For example, the three pair of joined forms at the "circle" end are both somewhat smaller and lack the "swept back" form of the seven others and also have red interiors for their "legs" while the other seven pair as noted are larger, have swept back forms and have white interiors for their "legs" but framed with red where they are joined to the body. Subtle but noticeable on study. What charm the weaver had in mind. It is almost as though the 7 large pair are pursuing the 3 smaller pair. The 7 pair being larger, more numerous and crossing over the warp center give the piece a slightly heavier weight on one side than the other. The name "ALEM" is written on the border (reverso) most likely establishing ownership (perhaps not the maker). Some skirts and pua are found with two names indicating their heirloom value.

I would like to see what this skirt looked like when it was worn. It is 40" x 21" with 178 warp threads per inch.

It is such playful seeming skirts that make me think the Kantu' were less into headhunting than the Iban. But of course there are very few extant Kantu' weavings compared to Iban so I don't know if the 6 Kantu pua and 11 Kantu skirts I have are representative.

As a further comparison, I am also posting a Kantu' pua which was probably used as a shoulder cloth because it is shorter and narrower than Iban pua although here again, of the 6 Kantu' pua I have, they are all on the narrow side averaging 26" with the widest at 33.5". This pua is 67" x 21". An unusual Kantu' because it has edge stripes like Saribas Iban and also three anthropometric shapes also like Iban. Good sharp ikat work on very fine handspun (possible commercial) threads although looks like natural dyes.

The cloth is unusual for a Kantu' piece because it clearly incorporates three faceless four fingered and toed anthropomorphs or possibly frog like figures. As anthropomorphs they are called "engkaramba" and may be spirit references. It is unusual for a Kantu' ikat to depict anthropomorphs. As is common in Iban cloths as well, each half of the design is symmetrical about several vertical (two here) reflection lines as produced by folding the warp onto itself and then tieing and dyeing the layers of warp threads appropriately so that when unfolded, each warp layer will have the reflections. This is similar to the German "scherensnitt" or silhouette paper cutting art or an advanced version of the child's "snowflake" patterns obtained by folding paper and snipping out pieces so that unfolded the overall pattern with its symmetries and reflections occur.

Other motifs include bird like figures with long necks and round heads, scorpions and other insect like animals. Each figure appears to be confined to its isolated space by the closures of the root like black matrix as it meanders from bottom to top. This may also symbolize the attempt to prevent the spirit of the figure from escaping. To the Iban, everything has a separable life, rocks, trees, etc. The traditional tumpal or row of triangles at the ends which is found throughout Indonesia and elsewhere in the east is also present. The Iban refer to the triangles as "puchok rebong" or "top of a bamboo shoot" or by extension, cone shape. The Iban and presumably the Kantu' believed that the main body of the design needed borders on the sides and ends to keep the spirit life embodied in the design from escaping and causing harm. The many small squares with eyes lying within the black matrix are termed "mata puna" or "eye of the green pigeon" according to some. The elements of the cloths are derived from the animals, plants and other objects of the jungle environment abstracted though they are but over the course of many generations appear to have lost whatever identity with the presumed template they may have had as different weavers would give different names to the same motif in nearly all but the most realistically depicted figures.

The colored borders of the shoulder cloth are commercial thread but the main body appears to be of fine handspun cotton judging from the unevenness of the warp threads when viewed under magnification. If so this is a real testament to the skill of the woman who spun those threads nearly 100 years ago.


For some reason, the picture has reproduced as though very faded when in fact it is not but still quite strong colors. Not sure why this is happening, I tried deleting and reattaching several times.

-John


Pamela wrote:
John

I have visited the Peranakan exhibition in Singapore which you mention and yes, I found the beadwork fascinating. I have quite a good book with some information on the Peranakan 'The Straits Chinese: A Cultural History' by Khoo Joo Ee published by the Peppin Press (Amsterdam and Kuala Lumpur fax: 31 20 4201152. I bought my copy in KL having originally seen it in Singapore (where it was much more expensive). It is a general book on the culture so has some textiles, some pottery, some furniture, quite a lot of old photos. I am pretty sure that I bought a small book on the beadwork during a visit to the Kuching Museum bookshop a few years ago. It is currently 'hiding' somewhere on my bookshelves. If it comes to light I will let you know.

Both your textiles are very interesting especially the loin cloth. Traditional textiles worn by men disappear so much earlier than women's clothing and also items such as loin cloths tend not to be revived for cultural shows. The two different ends are interesting.

The sungkit technique is interesting. Yes, striking designs. Personally I have more empathy with the softer colours of the ikat although I appreciate the 'stand up and stare' quality of the sungkit.

Re the books - thanks. If you get a chance to look at the rash of China textile posts (especially Dong) before they were upstaged by the Iban we were quoting quite a bit from this volume. Gets to look like an exchange of code with page numbers and figure numbers!

We would love to see some more Borneo textiles. It would be a good idea to start a new thread or two - perhaps split out the jackets from the mats. Generally, although I know you like the woven together nature of all sorts of items, I would suggest that it is more helpful if there is some sense to types of items or origins on one thread rather than a muddle together. I know that I and others can find it frustrating trying to find the right thread where we have seen something before and some coherence can help. Of course, there is always the search facility.

So, keep going with the photo posting (especially as you give helpful information to accompany the photos which is great for refrence and learning) but a little order please!! Congratulations on having got the size of the photos sorted out!

all the best


Attachments:
File comment: A Kantu' pua probably a ceremonial hanging or shoulder cloth because of its relatively narrowness.

67" x 21"

kantu shoulder cloth1.jpg
kantu shoulder cloth1.jpg [ 120.37 KiB | Viewed 12853 times ]
kantu kebat river skeeters.jpg
kantu kebat river skeeters.jpg [ 183.5 KiB | Viewed 12853 times ]

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 07, 2004 7:54 pm 
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Pamela - your second bidang confirms what I though from your first.

I don't think that either one is Iban. The second is probably KANTU'. It has the Kantu' ends, one black and the other red as well as the tri-colored triangular shapes in the borders, the strong use of black as shadows and fills and the overall "openness" of the design. The Iban tend to fill the space completely with hooks, etc.

The first one is harder to tell from the picture. If not Kantu', it is probably one of the other Ibanic peoples in West Kalimantan. Can you post some other views of it. Perhaps larger? (I hesitate to ask that.) Possibly change the orientation to vertical (as the weaver would see it).

It struck me when I first saw it that it was "different". I'll look though what books I have to see if there is anything similar.

That was a very good find.

-John


Pamela wrote:
John

Thank you so much for the helpful comments on my textiles - I really appreciate it. I am going to post a photo of the second bidang that I bought from the same source as the one above. It is quite coarse in texture and weave and the intensity of the dyes is very much as shown in the photo. Especially the top 'dark' border is as shown with some thread blackish in shade and the balance a brownish mottled hue. I have always associated the two pieces as being from a similar source but, of course, this may not be true at all.

best wishes and thanks again for sharing your knowledge with us.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 07, 2004 9:32 pm 
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John

The Kantu 'river skeeters' is a stunning design - a modern poster, so very, very graffic. The Kantu shoulder cloth is very complex - I missed the anthropomorphs at first as they are so buried in the complexity of the design. I find it just so amazing that these designs have all been conceived by the weaver and then translated into the binding of the threads in the ikat, dyed, bound and then dyed again.

I am posting 2 details of my first posted bidang. Sorry for the converging verticals as it is hanging in my hallway. I should have gone and got a stool to photograph it - getting a bit late in the day!

It is fascinating learning more about the pieces and very exciting!

Any member can start a new thread. Look to the top left of a thread or the bottom left of a thread or the top or bottom of the list of posts at the General level and you will see the 'new topic' button. Just click that and start your new thread. You must post a subject heading but other than that it is just like adding a message to an existing post. Go for it!!


Attachments:
File comment: close up of detail
Borneo-206w.jpg
Borneo-206w.jpg [ 57.23 KiB | Viewed 12841 times ]
File comment: detail of bidang
Borneo-201w.jpg
Borneo-201w.jpg [ 52.84 KiB | Viewed 12841 times ]
File comment: detail of bidang
Borneo-200w.jpg
Borneo-200w.jpg [ 53.96 KiB | Viewed 12841 times ]

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 08, 2004 4:14 pm 
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Pamela -

I sense that you share my profoundest amazement at the intellectual and graphic creativity of the women weavers of Borneo. They were early recognized as producing the finest and most imaginative weavings in Indonesia. These women had incredible graphic imaginations. And there is no evidence that they first worked out their designs by initial sketching. They sort of sprung full blown. Some weavers did relate that new designs came to them in dreams. The Iban men as well were known for their propensity to ornament almost everything. So I supposed, graphic design was "in their blood".

The women were also known for their ability to combine and intertwine motifs into new images so it is easy for the eye to get lost among it all. Part of the pleasure in a way. I have an unfortunate tendency for my eyes to glide over an image and must force them to slow down and see as well as look.

It sometimes takes considerable but pleasurable study to discern the real patterns buried among the hooks and spirals and branchings and reflected imaging, etc. I find it very easy to "project" my own interpretations onto these pieces and sometimes "see" things I am familiar with that the weaver might not have made at all. Kind of the Rorschach business. But this is a natural human tendency of trying to make sense out of the unfamiliar.

And thanks for the closeup postings of the skirt. Somehow I don't think it is Kantu' because of the lack of the red/black ends and borders which are not familiar to me as Kantu. But the main field design has that Kantu' "feel". I am slightly familiar with two other small Ibanic groups and am posting their pieces for interest. One is from the Mualang people and the other is from the Kentunggau. They are also located in Kalimantan along the great Kapuas river and its tributaries. There is a river called the Kentunggau feeding the Kapuas area.

The Ketunggau piece seems fairly typical of their work from the few I have seen. The bluish borders in particular. Ceremonial skirt. Ketunggau people, West Kalimantan, Borneo. Later 19th century. Cotton, natural dyes, aniline trade threads. Warp ikat. Very good condition. Features sieve motifs. Borders very different from other tribes. As is common, the trade threads are used in the borders and the native cotton in the rest. Has the red and black ends like Kantu'.

The Mualang piece picture is the only one in my collection and I do not know of others. I hope someone comes across this site and posts other examples.

Handspun Mualang kebat. Four fold pattern. Brownish overall color although like Kantu has red one end and darker at other. Colors throughout are buff, red, brown black. Border stripes with colored edge striped borders similar to Saribas. Red, yellow, gold, white, blue edge stripes. Does not have Kantu red, buff, black triangle border elements. Warp threads doubled 116 threads/inch. Possible aniline thread or trade threads in edge borders. 46.5" x 20.5"

And I am also posting a "sepapat" Iban pua I have similar to the one you posted for comparison.

Ceremonial ritual cloth, handspun cotton; natural dyes, warp ikat, weft twining, washed, blocked, firefly (sepepat) pattern. 19th century. 20 wefts/inch x 68 doubled warps/inch. Very fine ikat work. Outer borders red, white. Excellent condition indicating heirloom status.

I have an old and unusual apron from the Kayan people which is fairly rare. I will post it under a new thread. It is not woven but cutouts appliqued to a backgound. A type of apron seen in old pictures but not many surviviedI don't think.

And now for something completely different. I am posting a sungkit I "faked" with a computer graphic package. I have one vertical half of the piece. It was often the custom to split an heirloom piece between two families or such. The dealer in Kuching who found the half I have was tracking the other half but recently told me to forget it because it burnt in a longhouse fire. I think many pieces have been lost that way. So for my amusement, I "reconstructed" the piece.

Thanks for all your postings and comments and I'm hoping others join in as well.

-John

Pamela wrote:
John

The Kantu 'river skeeters' is a stunning design - a modern poster, so very, very graffic. The Kantu shoulder cloth is very complex - I missed the anthropomorphs at first as they are so buried in the complexity of the design. I find it just so amazing that these designs have all been conceived by the weaver and then translated into the binding of the threads in the ikat, dyed, bound and then dyed again.

I am posting 2 details of my first posted bidang. Sorry for the converging verticals as it is hanging in my hallway. I should have gone and got a stool to photograph it - getting a bit late in the day!

It is fascinating learning more about the pieces and very exciting!

Any member can start a new thread. Look to the top left of a thread or the bottom left of a thread or the top or bottom of the list of posts at the General level and you will see the 'new topic' button. Just click that and start your new thread. You must post a subject heading but other than that it is just like adding a message to an existing post. Go for it!!


Attachments:
File comment: graphically recombined original half of an Iban sungkit.
faked.jpg
faked.jpg [ 183.7 KiB | Viewed 12825 times ]
File comment: Iban ikat pua of the "sepepat" or "firefly" pattern.

88.5"x 40"

iban pua 37.jpg
iban pua 37.jpg [ 150.07 KiB | Viewed 12825 times ]
File comment: Mualang bidang. Has field similar to Iban but red and black ends like Kantu'
mualang kain kebat (dark jewel) 3.0.jpg
mualang kain kebat (dark jewel) 3.0.jpg [ 144.11 KiB | Viewed 12825 times ]
File comment: Ikat Bidang from the Kentunggau people in West Kalimantan. late 19th century. Bluish borders typical.

47" x 21"

ketunggau kebat.jpg
ketunggau kebat.jpg [ 152.11 KiB | Viewed 12825 times ]

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 16, 2004 9:26 pm 
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I thought that I would post one more skirt on this thread which I purchased in Sarawak at the end of the 1990s. I know very little about it and would welcome any comments.

The design is embroidered on what is, I believe, purchased, machine woven cloth, probably cotton but could have some synthetic mixture. The coloured thread of the straight lines of the embroidery seems to be silk in but could be mercerised cotton in the natural coloured thread used for the chain stitch embroidery in the all over curly designs.

It is not one of those 'great' textiles in the collection but I quite liked the somewhat quirky curves in the embroidery which asked to be noticed.


Attachments:
File comment: embroidered skirt 71.5 cm wide, 104 cm in circumference
Borneo-(66).jpg
Borneo-(66).jpg [ 59.38 KiB | Viewed 12793 times ]
File comment: embroidered skirt - detail
Borneo-(68).jpg
Borneo-(68).jpg [ 57.47 KiB | Viewed 12793 times ]

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 17, 2004 6:46 pm 
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Pamela -

Another interesting skirt. I have not seen one like it either. Presumably recent? The allover tesselated pattern makes me think it has a strong Malay influence although of course tesselation is ancient and early patola cloths from the Gujarat had it and clearly influenced later Iban sungkits and perhaps the ikat work as well. It would seem to be the work of an "apprentice"? Just my opinion.

The three columns of hooks sprouting in opposite directions from the same base line is also interesting. I found that rotating the skirt picture 90 degrees makes them stand out more clearly as rows.

I have attached the rotated picture if that is any help.

Although the hooks appear to be more or less randomly placed along the base lines, they are consistently located on their base line within each row.

For the sewers, is it likely that the embroidered field was done in Pamela's orientation or in the rotated one. Or both? Or ...?

Keep 'em coming. We are seeing much otherwise no likely to be shown elsewhere.

-John


Pamela wrote:
I thought that I would post one more skirt on this thread which I purchased in Sarawak at the end of the 1990s. I know very little about it and would welcome any comments.

The design is embroidered on what is, I believe, purchased, machine woven cloth, probably cotton but could have some synthetic mixture. The coloured thread of the straight lines of the embroidery seems to be silk in but could be mercerised cotton in the natural coloured thread used for the chain stitch embroidery in the all over curly designs.

It is not one of those 'great' textiles in the collection but I quite liked the somewhat quirky curves in the embroidery which asked to be noticed.


Attachments:
File comment: Pamela's bidang rotated.

Note the three rows of opposed hooks and the consistent location of the hooks along a single base line in each row.

Borneo-(66)a.jpg
Borneo-(66)a.jpg [ 58.93 KiB | Viewed 12778 times ]

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 17, 2004 9:46 pm 
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Interesting viewpoint (in more ways than one), John.

As a 'sewer' I would say that the skirt length was probably manipulated in all directions. I would imagine that the fabric was rotated so that the line of stitch was most comfortable at any point of line or curve. However, the main flow of the sewing is parallel to the the straight lines of sewing which forms a border along the top and bottom of the skirt. The first 'row' above the straight lines has been sewn across in zig-zags parallel to them. The rest of the lattice has been created by squares made of chain stitch. A few additional stitches - not chain - have been added to join the points of the squares parallel to the straight lines to give an optical illusion of the lines having been created from left to right. I think that this framework of lattice would be sewn first and then the 'hooks' would have been added in afterwards.

I would think it unlikely that it was sewn on a frame.

I have a couple of Iban ikat skirts which have added applied trade fabric hems or borders. One is quite wide and has embroidery and pieces of silver paper applied, possible also wool thread couched. The hem has been subject to quite hard wear so much of this has worn off. The cotton ikat has stood up to the wear, the decorative hem has not. The hem is two layers - red, quite fine almost lawn, cut in a notched fashion, an added white band behind also notched and then the hem is lined with a piece of indigo on natural batik which has been hand-drawn not cap.

Most of the ikat thread seems to be hand-spun and woven cotton. Possibly one or two threads in the two woven borders may be purchased. There are a few yellow threads which might have been purchased, chemically dyed thread. I suppose many collectors of Iban weavings might remove the added border. However, I collect first and foremost items of clothing so that is how I want to keep my textiles. I think that is why I think of my skirts as they would have been worn and thus keep showing them in that direction. The women who wove the designs would have had a dual focus - the overall design in the direction of the warp but, as women they must also have been thinking of how the skirts would look when worn.


Attachments:
File comment: Iban ikat skirt with applied, embellished border. 52 cm wide and 98 cm in circumference. The band is approximately 17.5 cm wide and the woven ikat width is 43 cm.
Borneo-(48).jpg
Borneo-(48).jpg [ 55.48 KiB | Viewed 12774 times ]
File comment: detail of bottom border of Iban skirt showing embroidered and applied silver paper embellishment
Borneo-(51).jpg
Borneo-(51).jpg [ 57.06 KiB | Viewed 12774 times ]
File comment: detail of reverse of Iban skirt showing lining of batik to applied bottom border
Borneo-(72).jpg
Borneo-(72).jpg [ 59.01 KiB | Viewed 12774 times ]

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 18, 2004 7:56 pm 
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Yet one more interesting piece from Pamela.

Thanks for the clarifications on the previous skirt.

For the recent post, the creepy crawly motif running along the border (great in that wearing position) is most likely a centipede. Probably should be a millipede with so many legs. I assume that the added cloth was sewn over the unseen border?

Where do you find these pieces? Looking forward to seeing your others.

-John

The

Pamela wrote:
Interesting viewpoint (in more ways than one), John.

As a 'sewer' I would say that the skirt length was probably manipulated in all directions. I would imagine that the fabric was rotated so that the line of stitch was most comfortable at any point of line or curve. However, the main flow of the sewing is parallel to the the straight lines of sewing which forms a border along the top and bottom of the skirt. The first 'row' above the straight lines has been sewn across in zig-zags parallel to them. The rest of the lattice has been created by squares made of chain stitch. A few additional stitches - not chain - have been added to join the points of the squares parallel to the straight lines to give an optical illusion of the lines having been created from left to right. I think that this framework of lattice would be sewn first and then the 'hooks' would have been added in afterwards.

I would think it unlikely that it was sewn on a frame.

I have a couple of Iban ikat skirts which have added applied trade fabric hems or borders. One is quite wide and has embroidery and pieces of silver paper applied, possible also wool thread couched. The hem has been subject to quite hard wear so much of this has worn off. The cotton ikat has stood up to the wear, the decorative hem has not. The hem is two layers - red, quite fine almost lawn, cut in a notched fashion, an added white band behind also notched and then the hem is lined with a piece of indigo on natural batik which has been hand-drawn not cap.

Most of the ikat thread seems to be hand-spun and woven cotton. Possibly one or two threads in the two woven borders may be purchased. There are a few yellow threads which might have been purchased, chemically dyed thread. I suppose many collectors of Iban weavings might remove the added border. However, I collect first and foremost items of clothing so that is how I want to keep my textiles. I think that is why I think of my skirts as they would have been worn and thus keep showing them in that direction. The women who wove the designs would have had a dual focus - the overall design in the direction of the warp but, as women they must also have been thinking of how the skirts would look when worn.

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 Post subject: imitations
PostPosted: Thu Jul 15, 2004 8:11 pm 
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I am probably really stretching the "basket" threads a bit but hope there is some elasticity in them.

I returned from a trip to Philadelphia where I happened to visit a gallery devoted to wood turning art and saw an amazing exhibit of wooden pieces turned and painted to look like real American Indian baskets. The wood turner was an 80 year old (now) artist named Lincoln Seitzman.

I have posted some pictures of the more Trompe d'oeil ones. He achieves the basket look by careful wood turning and clever and meticulous as well as time consuming painting.

The styles of his works are immediately recognizable to collectors of american indian baskets. His prices are in the several thousands for each up to about US$10,000 or thereabouts. At his top prices, you can get a real and respectable American Indian piece (not the best by a long shot these days) so you have to wonder.

His price for the "Cherokee" basket is astronomically beyond what a real one like it would sell for so it is clear one pays for his artistry and apparently his name as well.

There are American Indian artists who make ceramic pots and paint them also to look like their baskets and these are also pricey. So more a matter of the artist and artistry.

Anyone know of Trompe d'oeil textiles?


Attachments:
File comment: An all wood and paint piece simulating a modern Navajo style coiled plaque.
Navajo style.jpg
Navajo style.jpg [ 63.68 KiB | Viewed 12717 times ]
File comment: A detail of the basket that simulates modern Navajo Indian work. Note the careful painting of the white "wraps" around each "coil". They even slant appropriately. I have not counted but there are many hundreds of these painted on, eac
Navajo style detial.jpg
Navajo style detial.jpg [ 66.31 KiB | Viewed 12717 times ]
File comment: A wooden turned and painted piece to look like a modern Cherokee basket from the American Southeast regions.

Different woods give the large different colors. But note the careful painting to make it look as though thin wooden slat material is thinnin

Cherokee.jpg
Cherokee.jpg [ 59.32 KiB | Viewed 12717 times ]

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Last edited by john on Fri Jul 16, 2004 7:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 16, 2004 2:00 am 
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I'd thought I toss in my favorite Iban basket. I bought this in Sarawak in 1978 and have kept ever since. Nice to see baskets on this site and I believe completely acceptable as "weavings".


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Picture 004.jpg
Picture 004.jpg [ 46.11 KiB | Viewed 12714 times ]

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 16, 2004 12:28 pm 
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Dear John and Mark

A couple of interesting posts.

John,

Quote:
Anyone know of tromp d'oil textiles?
At the moment I can't think of any trompe d'oeil textiles in the same way as the pottery baskets. However, a variation on a theme is the (increasing) use of embroidery to replicated weaving as it is a more easier and flexible way to work especially carrying small pieces of fabric to the fields or, of course, as the weaving skills dye away. A particular example is the Black Thai headcloth where the decorated end pieces were once supplementary weft and are now embroidery. See http://www.tribaltextiles.info/Gallerie ... /BTE08.htm The group still weave but not these end pieces which are now embroidered see http://www.tribaltextiles.info/Gallerie ... /BTE26.htm I have yet to find an old headcloth where it is possible to clearly identify that the ends are woven and not embroidered. There is the eternal challenge to identify what is embroidery and what is supplementary weft across many Thai/T'ai/Lao textiles.

Mark,

I love your Iban basket and can well understand why you cannot let it go. I was thinking how, with Iban baskets, because they have a double layer it is possible to have a very fine (both in design and thickness) outer layer because there is a much more durable and thicker, inner layer (plus the tough wooden rim). In a way this is a trompe d'oeil of a different kind in that something is presented which looks initially to be much more fragile than it is.

Perhaps what all of this says to us is that you should not believe what you see superficially but examine closely - and you never know what surprise awaits you! I also know that as I learn more I see more so that I do not take any object (especially textile) at face value - it does keep life interesting and also provides some surprises/shocks when I review early pieces in my own collection.

and Mark, thanks for the 'vote' for baskets!

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Pamela

http://www.tribaltextiles.info
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 16, 2004 7:22 pm 
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Mark - a very beautiful basket all around. The number of vertical repeats of the design puts it on the rarer side.

And it is interesting that the wood rim is similar to that made by the Shakers for their elegant wooden boxes/baskets with the overlapping piece ornamentally finished and tacked.

Great example and I sure it has a happy home in the Mark Johnson Museum.




Mark Johnson wrote:
I'd thought I toss in my favorite Iban basket. I bought this in Sarawak in 1978 and have kept ever since. Nice to see baskets on this site and I believe completely acceptable as "weavings".

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 Post subject: A tisket-A tasket...
PostPosted: Fri Jul 23, 2004 10:55 am 
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OK- I can't stand it any longer... all these temptations! I must confess to a longstanding affection for both Iban textiles and basketry, commencing with my first purchase in the mid-70's of a two-part basket purse in red, black and natural, which I subsequently, many years later recognized as being Iban- probably made purely as an inexpensive market commodity. However, I am still a sucker for those red, black and natural baskets and have been collecting them as I find them. Here is my current display, along with an Iban bidang, which I think echoes the designs on the baskets, or vice versa. Perhaps I missed this mentioned, but do the men weave the baskets, as is the tradition here in Thailand and other places? I'd be interested in knowing more about the source of the designs and motifs on the baskets. Anybody?


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Susan Stem

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 Post subject: Re: A tisket-A tasket...
PostPosted: Fri Jul 23, 2004 2:22 pm 
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Susan -

What a really nice display. It shames me because I keep almost all of my textiles rolled or folded and only a couple "on display" at any time. I hope to change that.

And you were so fortunate to begin purchasing back in the 70's. I only discovered such things beginning in the early 90's but have been trying to catch up.

It is my understanding that only the Iban men wove the baskets and the designs are somewhat limited and have names. The wonderful book on Iban Baskets has all this information and more.

As you notice, the basket designs tend not to vary much among the common designs and motifs unlike the bidangs which are generally great flights of imagination and creativity in combining and integrating more or less standard motifs. But given such imagination, the pleasing and intriguing combinations are endless. However, certain designs do tend to get repeated.

There must be something very special about Iban (and Ibanic) designs because they tend to draw and grab you and linger in your mind. And (un?)fortunately turn you into a collector of them.

There might be something in them similar to the American Indian Acoma pottery. I talked to an old lady Acoma potter years ago and she said the reason you feel something special in them is because they make a prayer to the clay before they begin although they did not have the many spiritual and physical threats to life and health the Iban weavers faced if they transgressed some adat.

Perhaps that is why the Acoma pottery seems only to convey a sense of beauty and serenity but the Iban cloths, particularly the ceremonial pua, have a slight but definitely perceptible malevolent ("power") undercurrent to their beauty. Perhaps "threating" or "unsettling" would be better than malevolent? Fascinating pieces.

Thanks for the posts and looking forward to seeing more of them.

susan stem wrote:
OK- I can't stand it any longer... all these temptations! I must confess to a longstanding affection for both Iban textiles and basketry, commencing with my first purchase in the mid-70's of a two-part basket purse in red, black and natural, which I subsequently, many years later recognized as being Iban- probably made purely as an inexpensive market commodity. However, I am still a sucker for those red, black and natural baskets and have been collecting them as I find them. Here is my current display, along with an Iban bidang, which I think echoes the designs on the baskets, or vice versa. Perhaps I missed this mentioned, but do the men weave the baskets, as is the tradition here in Thailand and other places? I'd be interested in knowing more about the source of the designs and motifs on the baskets. Anybody?

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 Post subject: Ibanics, dey rule!
PostPosted: Fri Jul 23, 2004 3:00 pm 
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Great to see that Susan has come out of the Iban Collector's Closet! Ha! I love these little plaited baskets and started collecting them as soon as I found my first one in Sarawak in the mid 1970's. I had quite a collection, but sold off most of them over the years with the exception of one I showed earlier, a few others, and the one I am including in this posting. I bought this one with the other one and were my first two examples.

At that time there were identified as Ceremonial Rice Seed Baskets and were supposed to have been used to hold special rice grains prior to sowing. Since that time, the "Iban Baskets" book has identified them primarily as Dowry baskets passed from mother to daughter. The motifs are supposed to represent insects, shrews, birds, and other animals. There is a definite relationship with the patterns found on many Iban skirts.

One area to look at are motifs found on the textiles of the Minangkabau of Sumatra Island. They have very similar motifs and techniques to the non-figurative Ibanic designs. Some legends and research imply a direct connection, with the Iban having migrated from Sumatra into Western Borneo some hundreds of years ago. Sumatra textiles were influenced by India designs and techniques and certainly you can see the basic Indian structure in Iban textiles (unlike nearly all other Dayak groups which migrated to Borneo much earlier than the Iban).

Anyway, keep bringing on these great Borneo baskets, beadwork, and textiles!!!


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