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Ikat from Batak, Sumatra, Indonesia

057 Sumatra, Batak

Ulos (shawl)  magnifiermicroscope

Origin: Sumatra, Batak
Locale: Holbung/Uluan, bordering south shore of Lake Toba, and to the north of the Silindung valley
Period: Late 19th tot early 20th c.
Yarn: Cotton, hand-spun, fine
Technique: Warp ikat
Panels: 3
Size: 75 x 206 cm (2' 5" x 6' 9")
Weight: 460 g (16.2 oz), 298 g/m2 (0.98 oz/ft2)
Design: Batak ulos pinunsaan - a type often misidentified as ulos ragidup - from Silindung. One of the two most important in the Batak hierarchy of ikat cloths. Executed in a dark mengkudu (morinda), with finely detailed end panels in supplementary weft. Probably the top is the male, the bottom the female end. A rare feature is that the end panels are not part of and limited to the central panel, but are attached and run across the entire width, probably for added prestige.
Comment: Rare old ulos pinunsaan with well aligned ikat work and unusual attached end panels with fine supplementary weft of uncommon finesse. Minor damage to end panels, one tiny hole in midfield. Ulos have male and female endings and are central in bridal exchanges. They are ascribed protective powers against physical danger such as illness. Seers would read the future in their patterns, shamans prescribed weaving or wearing one as a cure for unexplained afflictions. Because of their ritual importance ulos pinunsaan are rarely seen in westerns collections.
Background: Additional information in chapters on Sumatra and Batak.
Exhibited: Museu do Oriente, Lisbon, 2014/15. Hong Kong University Museum and Art Gallery, 2017.
Published: Peter ten Hoopen, Woven Languages, 2014, Orientations Vol. 46/2014
Compare: 146 174 203 252 253
Literature: Ulos ragidup with similarly wide end panel (though satu jiwa - part of central panel) in Maxwell and Maxwell, Textiles of Indonesia, An Introductory Handbook, Fig. 70. No other published example known of ulos with end panels across the entire width.
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