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121 Timor, East Timor

Sikal-lau (shawl)  magnifier

Origin: Timor, East Timor
Locale: Tutuala, Los Palos, Lautem district, Fataluku people.
Period: Circa 1950
Yarn: Cotton, hand spun, medium
Technique: Warp ikat
Panels: 2
Size: 81 x 190 cm (2' 7" x 6' 2")
Design: Sikal-lau namil-lau, lit. hip cloth man's cloth, for the aristocracy. Belonging to a category called sikal-lau loiasufanu, with motifs based on ancient rock art. Two panels with numerous ikated bands and stripes of increasing width towards the extremities. Figurative motifs that appear to represent outrigger canoes and animals, including cocks. The white snaking motif may locally be called 'worm' to disguise its actual reference to a mythical lake-dwelling giant snake. The two widest bands have tumpal endings. hand spun, natural dyes. Lima varna.
Comment: Forms pair with Pusaka Collection Nr. 122. Older blanket in excellent condition. Very rare. Dark indigo undertone makes the brighter indigo and morinda stand out. This is a true lima varna: apart from two shades of indigo and two of morinda, there is a greenish grey which probably was stronger green originally. (Stable green natural dyes are rarely found in the archipelago.) See also Pusaka Collection Nr. 077. Typical motifs similar to those on nearby Kisar, which tell a story of people who were living on mountains, fought a war and lost, had to flee in boats and created a new establishment in the diaspora. As of 2014 this is one of only two published pieces.
Background: For additional information see chapter on Timor and/or East Timor.
Exhibited: Museu do Oriente, Lisbon, 2014/15
Published: Peter ten Hoopen, Woven Languages, 2014
Compare: 122 077
Literature: Nearly identical cloth in Khan Majlis, Woven Messages, Fig. 307. As for the piece's rarity, Khan Majlis states in her caption: 'Textiles from this region [..] have never been published to date.' The book was published in 1991. A recent one, made in 2009, was published in Jill Forshee's contribution to Hamilton and Barrkman, Textiles of Timor, Fig. 11.5.
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