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Early Indonesian Textiles from Three Island Cultures

Early Indonesian Textiles from Three Island Cultures

Holmgren, Robert J., and Anita Spertus
1989
112 pages
54 illustrations
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Textiles have for centuries served a crucial role in Indonesia. Far beyond their customary utilitarian function, they have been used in symbolic and sacred contexts and also as emblems of wealth and status.

The hub of trading systems, ancient Indonesia was a pathway for religious and artistic influences, dispersing exotic patterns and forms from many cultures throughout its myriad island populations. Images deeply embedded in ancient traditions combined with designs from other Asian civilizations to create a rich iconographic tradition that celebrates a cosmology founded on revered ancestors and supernatural presences.

Using nineteenth- and early twentieth-century textiles as the vehicle to explore the central issue of iconographic origins, art historians Robert J. Holmgren and Anita E. Spertus have examined the many-layered complexities of Indonesian pattern and form. Through forty-five textiles and related objects selected from their collection, they trace the history and culture of three very distinctive island cultures, each with a radically different approach to design.

The imagery of Sumba, an isolated tribal society, is forceful, and often violent and sexually explicit. Toraja, a transitional culture in which an animist vision has been fertilized by external influences, produced rhythmic, exuberant patterns that bring to mind the dynamism of modern abstract painting. And from Lampung, a sophisticated pre-colonial court culture, emerged masterpieces of naturalistic description and complex figural iconography.

Each work has been specially photographed in color for this volume and is discussed in terms of its function, iconography, and significance within the culture. Also included are maps, a glossary, and a bibliography.

Woman's Ceremonial Skirt (Lau Hada), Cotton, nassa shells, glass beads, Sumba Island
Sumba Island
early 20th century
Woman's Ceremonial Skirt (Lau Hada), Cotton, nassa shells, glass beads, Sumba Island
Sumba Island
late 19th century
Ear Ornament or Pendant (Mamuli), Gold, Sumba Island
Sumba Island
19th century
Band from a Woman's Ceremonial Skirt (Lau Pahudu), Cotton, Sumba Island
Sumba Island
mid to late 19th century
Band from a Woman's Ceremonial Skirt (Lau Pahudu), Cotton, Sumba Island
Sumba Island
mid to late 19th century
Band from a Woman's Ceremonial Skirt (Lau Pahudu), Cotton, Sumba Island
Sumba Island
mid to late 19th century
Horse Bridle Ornament (Katanga Njara), Silver or bronze, Sumba Island
Sumba Island
19th century or earlier
Applique from a Woman's Ceremonial Skirt (Lau Katipa), Wool, cotton, glass beads, Sumba Island
Sumba Island
late 19th century
Man's Shoulder or Hip Cloth (Hinggi), Cotton, Sumba Island
Sumba Island
ca. 1920
Ceremonial Textile (Mawa' or Maa'), Cotton, paint, Toraja people
Toraja people
late 19th century
Ceremonial Textile (Mawa' or Maa'), Cotton, Toraja people
Toraja people
early 19th century
Ceremonial Banner or Wrapper (Sarita), Cotton, Toraja people
Toraja people
19th century
Head Wrapper or Loincloth (Pewo or Mbesa Tali To Batu), Cotton, Toraja people
Toraja people
ca. 1850–1900
Head Wrapper or Loincloth (Pewo or Mbesa Tali To Batu), Cotton, Toraja people
Toraja people
ca. 1850–1900
Ceremonial Banner (Roto), Cotton, Toraja people
Toraja people
late 19th century
Ceremonial Hanging (Porilonjong), Cotton, Toraja people
Toraja people
19th century
Shroud (Sekomandi), Cotton, Toraja people
Toraja people
late 19th century
Ceremonial Textile (Tampan), Cotton, Lampung
Lampung
19th century
Ceremonial Textile (Tampan), Lampung artist, Cotton, Lampung
19th century
Ceremonial Textile (Tampan), Cotton, Pasisir people
Pasisir people
19th century
Showing 20 of 26

View Citations

Holmgren, Robert J., and Anita E. Spertus. 1989. Early Indonesian Textiles from Three Island Cultures: Sumba, Toraja, Lampung [Published in Conjonction with the Exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, February 14-May 14, 1989 and at the Textile Museum, Washington, June 17-August 6, 1989]. New York: Metropolitan museum of art.