Man’s shoulder or hip cloth (hinggi) with deer and serpent motif

Sumba Island artist

Not on view

This remarkable hinggi is in pristine condition and features intricately woven designs finely executed in strong colors, a particularly powerful graphic example of the genre. Dynamic designs cover the entire surface of the textile which is fringed by a multi-colored fringe at each end. The vivid designs are evenly balanced with the various bands organized symmetrically around a single band at the center: the center of focus of potency that comprises an abstract geometry (or core) from which the more figural iconography emanates. Motifs abound from the multiple domains of land, sea and sky and include a rich layering of avian creatures, sea horses and flat fish as well as fantastic snakes (their skin carefully delineated with intricate design elements) whose dramatically coiled tails nestle smaller snakes within. Paired horses with raised tails and coiffed manes face each other on four horizontal bands that run across the textile. These create a border for two bands of majestic deer (rusa) whose antlers, hide and tails are rendered with meticulous detail. Horses and deer were signs of high-status and nobility on Sumba Island. Deer were only hunted by chiefs and nobleman, their inclusion on polychrome hinggi such as this one reinforced the chiefly status of the individual for whom this cloth was woven.

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