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PostPosted: Fri Jul 23, 2004 3:17 pm 
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Here are a couple of things I saw in Kuching but had run out of $$ by then. Maybe they will be there next time.

There is a mat and a lidded basket. Not sure who wove the mat but I don't think it was Iban. Mark?

Could the mat possibly be from Sumatra? I note some Betel nut boxes on Susan Stem's site which may be kissing cousins in technique and rather charming pictorial execution naivete.

On the other hand, the "curls" are reminiscent of those on a skirt Pamela posted on Wed Jun 16, 2004 9:26 pm.


Attachments:
File comment: An old woven mat.
mat.jpg
mat.jpg [ 52.98 KiB | Viewed 9793 times ]
File comment: a lidded basket. Not sure of the date. Mark Johnson's opinion is that it is from central Borneo.
lidded basket.jpg
lidded basket.jpg [ 45.53 KiB | Viewed 9793 times ]

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Last edited by john on Mon Jul 26, 2004 3:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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 Post subject: Who Done It?
PostPosted: Fri Jul 23, 2004 4:47 pm 
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Hi John,
I am not sure about the origins of the mats either. I have had a few of these over the last couple of years and they were originally identified as coming from across the border and probably from the Ngaju Dayak. Typically, Ngaju mats are more refined, so I was not sure. I have also heard the Iban may have made these and that may be possible, but again I am not sure. I am trying to find out more info and will pass it on when I do.

The plaited basket is probably not Iban, but of the type that many are saying are from the Ngaju or other Central Borneo groups. They certainly are not constructed or patterned in the same way as the typical Iban style. I also lean towards the Central Borneo groups, rather than Iban.

It seems silly that certain identifications are so vague, but so much mis-information is spread around and the runners often do not provide solid data either, so you have to find additional information to verify what you hear.

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 Post subject: Re: Who Done It?
PostPosted: Fri Jul 23, 2004 5:47 pm 
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Thanks again Mark. I'll make the appropriate changes in my notes.

You should be a national treasure - at least of Borneo if they have such things.

I wonder if the time will come when the "Borneoens" - what do you call them? - will become aware that their cultural items are largely leaving or have already left them and start trying to get them back.

Here's a very scary thought - they may come up with something like the act in the US pertaining to American Indian pieces. If the Indians declare that a piece in a dealer's collection or museum is part of their tribal cultural heritage and necessary in their ceremonies, the piece has to be returned and it does not even matter if it was originally sold by an Indian. And of course there is no mention of any compensation as it is looked on as looted or stolen goods. I have heard that great museums like the Peabody at Harvard and other ethnographic museums spend most of their time now responding to these demands and are returning pieces they have had for 100 years or so.

And then there is the endangered bird stuff in which sellers of pieces with those types of feathers (elaborate old Indian head dresses, old rattles with feathers, etc.,) can be very heavily fined, jail time and pieces confiscated if they are caught selling or offering them for sale. Does not matter that the pieces long predate any such endangerment concerns.

There are regular "sting" operations going on in the US over this.


Can it happen in SEA tribal materials?


Mark Johnson wrote:
Hi John,
I am not sure about the origins of the mats either. I have had a few of these over the last couple of years and they were originally identified as coming from across the border and probably from the Ngaju Dayak. Typically, Ngaju mats are more refined, so I was not sure. I have also heard the Iban may have made these and that may be possible, but again I am not sure. I am trying to find out more info and will pass it on when I do.

The plaited basket is probably not Iban, but of the type that many are saying are from the Ngaju or other Central Borneo groups. They certainly are not constructed or patterned in the same way as the typical Iban style. I also lean towards the Central Borneo groups, rather than Iban.

It seems silly that certain identifications are so vague, but so much mis-information is spread around and the runners often do not provide solid data either, so you have to find additional information to verify what you hear.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 23, 2004 7:14 pm 
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Hi John,
First a quick comment. I did go back over some earlier notes I have on these mats and baskets. In the Iban Basket book (page 68) and in Hornbill & Dragon the basket type is identified as coming from Central Borneo. My notes on all of the mats of the type shown I have identified as Ngaju. I still do not have any direct collaborating evidence, but my notes were taken at the time I bought the mats, some several years ago, others since. My biggest problem is that all of the obvious Ot Danum/Ngaju mats are so refined with detailed figurative motifs. These mats are not nearly as refined and have relatively primitive patterns. I have a feeling new information will surface and the exact designation will be forthcoming.

The possiblity of future generations of Indonesias or Dayak wanting to re-patriate their artifacts seems unlikely. Since so much of the material has been abandoned or sold by peoples not all that interested in loosing the phyical remains of their culture, I doubt they really care. "Ethnographic" items, such as basketry, textiles, beadwork, costumes, headhunting objects, and old wood sculpture are rarely considered "National Treasures" by most Asian countries. The government seems mostly concerned with early Javanese, Buddhist, and Islamic culture and for years dismissed the "primative" cultures as insignificant. Indonesia has never signed any of the International Cultural Patrimony treaties and has little legal grounds to repatriate objects if they did eventually choose to.

Although there is a direct connection with the ancestors that is shared with American Indians, the tribal peoples of Asia seem to have much less of a concern with the material culture and bodily remains, once their disposed of. I know this is a broad generalization, but for example in Borneo, once the funeral is over, the decendants have no interest in the remains or ritual artifacts abandoned at the grave sites. So it would seem unlikely that future generations of Dayaks are really going to care what happened to all of the abandoned sculpture (which the Jungle would have devoured in any event!). The missionaries have also made it clear that conversion to Christianity requires they abandon their old ways and the ritual objects associated with traditional ceremonies.

It really is too bad and the countries of origin need to have a more solid long term policy for preserving cultural artifacts. They should set up a commission or board to review those items that may be sold to outsiders to determine if the local museums have similar pieces in their collections (or need them). They should allow the trade in cultural artifacts, but with some restrictions in place to at least keep some good examples for their own museums. No museum needs hundreds of the same object, but should encourage trading or selling out duplicates and acquiring pieces that they do not have. The Sarawak Museum in Kuching is a good example of a well managed local museum that has done a good job of preserving a well-rounded collection, yet allowing trade in artifacts that are not needed.

Who knows for sure, maybe some of these Asian countries will have a big change of heart and suddenly demand their objects back, but I seriously doubt it. For example I recently helped the Mingei International Museum (in San Diego) set up a show on their Indonesian Tribal Art Collection. The Indonesian Consul General from Los Angeles came to the opening and praised the museum for showing such wonderful artifacts from his country! He really enjoyed the exhibition and thought it was great that other people would be able to see the art produced in Indonesia. The show includes rare Tau-Tau (the only one know that is riding a horse) and bone boxes from Borneo, all items that one would think would be risky to show in public.

The bottom line for now, is I wouldn't be concerned about legal issues with collecting Asian tribal art. The trend in this country is too strengthen the laws on Cultural Patrimony, but the emphasis is on ancient art, archeological material, and objects coming from countries that the USA has special treaties with (usually politically motivated). Tribal art (outside of some American Indian objects) less than 200 years old seems pretty safe.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 23, 2004 8:14 pm 
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Location: east coast
Hi Mark and thanks yet again.

From your lips to God's ears.

On the mat - I'll ask the seller what he knows but again not sure how reliable it will be.

And there does not seem to be much interest in Iban culture and artifacts under the "new management" at the Sarawak museum which has been closed for an unreasonably long time now.

The new director seems more interested in promoting Malay/Mulim than Iban and tribal.

And the repatriation of artifacts among American indians was very similar to Borneo not so long ago. A couple of agressive international lawyers and things might change?

Is the show at the Mingei coming, on or gone? I get to SD about once per year and always do the Balboa Park sites.


Thanks again Mark. How about some more postings? You have great stuff.

Mark Johnson wrote:

Hi John,
......

The possiblity of future generations of Indonesias or Dayak wanting to re-patriate their artifacts seems unlikely. Since so much of the material has been abandoned or sold by peoples not all that interested in loosing the phyical remains of their culture, I doubt they really care. "Ethnographic" items, such as basketry, textiles, beadwork, costumes, headhunting objects, and old wood sculpture are rarely considered "National Treasures" by most Asian countries. The government seems mostly concerned with early Javanese, Buddhist, and Islamic culture and for years dismissed the "primative" cultures as insignificant. Indonesia has never signed any of the International Cultural Patrimony treaties and has little legal grounds to repatriate objects if they did eventually choose to.

Although there is a direct connection with the ancestors that is shared with American Indians, the tribal peoples of Asia seem to have much less of a concern with the material culture and bodily remains, once their disposed of. I know this is a broad generalization, but for example in Borneo, once the funeral is over, the decendants have no interest in the remains or ritual artifacts abandoned at the grave sites. So it would seem unlikely that future generations of Dayaks are really going to care what happened to all of the abandoned sculpture (which the Jungle would have devoured in any event!). The missionaries have also made it clear that conversion to Christianity requires they abandon their old ways and the ritual objects associated with traditional ceremonies.

It really is too bad and the countries of origin need to have a more solid long term policy for preserving cultural artifacts. They should set up a commission or board to review those items that may be sold to outsiders to determine if the local museums have similar pieces in their collections (or need them). They should allow the trade in cultural artifacts, but with some restrictions in place to at least keep some good examples for their own museums. No museum needs hundreds of the same object, but should encourage trading or selling out duplicates and acquiring pieces that they do not have. The Sarawak Museum in Kuching is a good example of a well managed local museum that has done a good job of preserving a well-rounded collection, yet allowing trade in artifacts that are not needed.

Who knows for sure, maybe some of these Asian countries will have a big change of heart and suddenly demand their objects back, but I seriously doubt it. For example I recently helped the Mingei International Museum (in San Diego) set up a show on their Indonesian Tribal Art Collection. The Indonesian Consul General from Los Angeles came to the opening and praised the museum for showing such wonderful artifacts from his country! He really enjoyed the exhibition and thought it was great that other people would be able to see the art produced in Indonesia. The show includes rare Tau-Tau (the only one know that is riding a horse) and bone boxes from Borneo, all items that one would think would be risky to show in public.

The bottom line for now, is I wouldn't be concerned about legal issues with collecting Asian tribal art. The trend in this country is too strengthen the laws on Cultural Patrimony, but the emphasis is on ancient art, archeological material, and objects coming from countries that the USA has special treaties with (usually politically motivated). Tribal art (outside of some American Indian objects) less than 200 years old seems pretty safe.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 23, 2004 9:11 pm 
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The Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park, San Diego is showing their collection of Indonesian Tribal Art through the end of the year. It opened around the beginning of June and will run about six months. There will be a catalog of the Museum's collection (still in the works). The collection includes several Dayak Sandung (bone/ash boxes), Toraja Tau-Tau, masks, shadow puppets, textiles, and beadwork. For more information please go to www.mingei.org.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Aug 31, 2004 3:57 pm 
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Location: east coast
Pamela -

I was reviewing some of my textile books and came across a skirt with the identical motif in Edric Ong's book "PUA". It is pictured as Bidang 1 in his book. Since the rest of his title has "Sarawak" in it, I assume his bidang is from Sarawak as well. He is not more specific as to location however.

The designs are the same but embroidered a bit differently.

-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.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Sep 01, 2004 2:42 am 
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John

Very many thanks indeed for this reference. I look forward to getting back to my library at the end of this week. I have been tantilisingly close to Sarawak in the last couple of weeks - over flying from Hong Kong to Brunei and then later up to KL. Definitely a case of 'so near yet so far'!

Many thanks,

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Sep 06, 2004 3:39 pm 
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Pamela - Guess what?

I have just been offered this skirt which is very reminiscent of yours. The dealer says the runner says it is Mualang. I had been looking for sungkit examples from that region. The Mualang are an Ibanic people and seem to have commonalities with the Kantu' and Ketunggau also of Kalimantan.

The dealer is also offering me others as well as a skirt done in pilih.

Sungkit looks identical on both sides except that the threads on one side have a very tiny slant as they move to the weft thread above. On the other side they are all horizontal. Difference is noticeable under close viewing.

Pilih looks "reversed" on the two sides. The supplementary thread floats on one side. Sometimes the tread floats long distances on one side making in a onesided design.

Maybe this clears up some more mystery about your skirt.

Hooked on textiles.



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: Mualang sungkit skirt. Mualang tends to favor brownish color.
sungkitmualangc1_.jpg
sungkitmualangc1_.jpg [ 65.83 KiB | Viewed 9755 times ]

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Sep 06, 2004 6:44 pm 
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John

How very, very interesting! My skirt would seem to be a 'copy', mainly in chain stitch embroidery for the curls and on a cheap purchased, machine made cloth imitating the style of your finely made piece. The two are clearly closely related with such close similarities in design features yet different in technique. Your post, while it provides a kind of answer, poses its own questions! Quite fascinating! Oh how it wants me want to find out the why, what and how!!

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Sep 09, 2004 4:59 pm 
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Pamela - more on this design.

The 1912 book by Hose and McDougall - The Pagan Tribes of Borneo -has this same design on a skirt worn by a woman.

FIGURE 106. Iban Women dancing with human Heads page 188 [Pamela: Susan Stem has helpfully pointed out that this same photo, reversed, also appears on page 52, Figure 22 of 'Splendid Symbols: Textiles and Tradition in Indonesia' by Mattiebelle Gittinger.]

So I guess this is narrowing it down some more?

Unfortunately they give very short shrift to textiles so don't know anything else about the cloths in that picture.

I have now seen about a 1/2 dozen variations of this design on skirts.

I'm posting yet another one.

More popular and pervasive than I thought. And as you said, it raises yet more questions.

Somebody stop me before I buy more. I'm long past the point of being able to stop myself.


Pamela wrote:
John

How very, very interesting! My skirt would seem to be a 'copy', mainly in chain stitch embroidery for the curls and on a cheap purchased, machine made cloth imitating the style of your finely made piece. The two are clearly closely related with such close similarities in design features yet different in technique. Your post, while it provides a kind of answer, poses its own questions! Quite fascinating! Oh how it wants me want to find out the why, what and how!!


Attachments:
File comment: sungkit skirt from the Mualang people of Borneo. a variation of Pamela's originally posted design.
sungkitmualangb1_.jpg
sungkitmualangb1_.jpg [ 61.23 KiB | Viewed 9726 times ]

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Sep 10, 2004 8:39 pm 
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John

This latest skirt posted by you seems even more ornate and probably very much higher up the status ladder than your previous post and most certainly than my original poor relation. Of course, it may also be that it is not at closely related. I don't have the 1912 book by Hose and McDougall - 'The Pagan Tribes of Borneo'.

Thanks for the post (but please remember my request for restriction on file size.......50-60K see http://www.tribaltextiles.info/communit ... .php?t=178 'Posting photos with messages - Forum protocol' - what a nag I am!)

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 11, 2004 8:36 pm 
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John

Susan has very kindly emailed me a scan of FIGURE 106. Iban Women dancing with human Heads page 188 from the 1912 book by Hose and McDougall - The Pagan Tribes of Borneo. Which woman do you think is wearing the skirt? Interesting how many different styles of skirt designs are being worn in the one photo.

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 Post subject: hooked on Borneo
PostPosted: Sun Sep 12, 2004 9:56 am 
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John- These are really beautiful examples of the sungkit technique and of different designs than often seen. Would you elaborate on their source and the way they're made? My understanding is that 'sungkit' is made with a needle- similar to 'tin chok' in Thailand, where a porcupine quill, or other sharp implement is used to insert discontinuous weft threads into the warps to form a design. Is that the case with these? A look at the back could be interesting perhaps.

Also, I found another Iban skirt with similar 'hook' motifs as Pamela's, but not in the lattice pattern of John's: in Gittinger's Splendid Symbols, p.212. It appears to possibly be sungkit also.

This 'thread' is a real feast for the eyes!

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 12, 2004 2:41 pm 
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You folk are very good at comparing designs in photos spread over two pages of the forum, turning the designs from vertical to horizontal, keeping that in your mind and then comparing to photos in books. Well, I am NOT good at any of that!

For the simple folk please see http://www.tribaltextiles.info/Gallerie ... arison.htm where I have taken the photos of the 3 skirts posted and displayed them one above the other, horizontally as they would be worn, so that they can then be compared against the photos in the literature. I hope that this makes things a bit easier - for me if for no one else! I have tried to list all the literature references made so far as well as 2 sources for the photos of Iban women with heads which John referred to (thanks to Susan Stem).

I am reasonably happy about the design similarities between my skirt and the first one that John posted but not so confident about the third. As to the ones being worn in the literature as suggested by John and Susan........(but it is fun!!)

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