Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Ceremonial Banner (Palepai Maju)

probably 18th century
Indonesia, Sumatra, south central Lampung
Fiber, ceramic and glass beads, cloth, nassa shells
L. 162 x W. 48 1/2 in. (411.5 x 123.2 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Anita E. Spertus and Robert J. Holmgren, in honor of Douglas Newton, 1990
Accession Number:
Not on view
In Indonesia textiles have great value as ritual objects and as a form of wealth. Among the most spectacular are the "ship cloths" of the Lampung region in Southern Sumatra, which often depict large ships. This unique beaded ship cloth is perhaps the finest surviving example of the type. The dimensions and design of this textile relate to wall hangings called "palepai," which were displayed by aristocrats on important ceremonial occasions such as marriages, circumcisions, and funerals.
The composition is dominated by two ships. The ship on the left, set in a night sky, holds a pyramidal shrine representing a sacred mountain or tree. The ship on the right, in a dawning sky, carries what may be a throne ("pepadon," or seat of merit). The ships are separated by a third ship, which bears a mountain.
Robert J. Holmgren and Anita E. Spertus, New York, until 1990

Holmgren, Robert J., and Anita E. Spertus. Early Indonesian Textiles from Three Island Cultures. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1989, no. 38, p. 90–91.

Kjellgren, Eric. Oceania: Art of the Pacific Islands in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York and New Haven: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2007, no. 127, pp. 215–216.

Kjellgren, Eric. "The Pacific Resurfaces: New Galleries for Oceanic Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art." Tribal Art (Winter 2007–2008), p. 104, 12.

Kjellgren, Eric. How to Read Oceanic Art. How to Read 3. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2014, pp. 110–11.

LaGamma, Alisa. "The Nelson Rockefeller Vision: In Pursuit of the Best in the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin vol. 72 (2014), p. 16, 18.

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