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Ikat from Timor-Leste, Timor, Indonesia

122 Timor, Timor-Leste

Tais (sarong)  magnifiermicroscope

Origin: Timor, Timor-Leste
Locale: Tutuala, Los Palos, Lautem district, Fataluku people, Jen i La'i Ratu clan.
Period: 1950
Yarn: Cotton, hand-spun, medium - plus pinstripes in commercial cotton
Technique: Warp ikat
Panels: 2
Size: 50 x 134 cm (1' 7" x 4' 4")
Weight: 620 g (21.9 oz), 463 g/m2 (1.52 oz/ft2)
Design: Two panels, both with several ikated stripes and three progessively wider ikated bands. Figurative motifs that represent mountain, the former homeland, riders, which stand for a lost battle, boats which represent flight, and a squarish shape which stands for the new settlement. Hand spun, natural dyes, except accent stripes in bright red. Lima varna, five colours, sign of high rank. The snaking pattern is publicly explained as representing a white worm, but actually represents a mythical huge snake that lives in a lake.
Comment: Forms pair with 121. Older sarong in excellent condition. Very rare. Cloth belongs to the Jen i La'i Ratu clan from Hihoru (Portuguese name: Ioro) in the subdistrict Tutuala. Jen i La'i Ratu is the ruling clan of Hihoru. Usual slight tapering towards one end. Dark indigo undertone makes brighter indigo and morinda stand out. True lima varna cloth: apart from two shades of indigo and two of morinda, there is a greenish grey, probably was stronger green originally. (Stable green natural dyes are rarely found in the archipelago.) Characteristic motifs reflect proximity to Kisar. All thread is hand spun, except the red pinstripes which were done in double-ply commercial thread, probably pre-dyed. All other colours were made with vegetable dyes with a beautiful pastel tonality.
Background: Additional information in chapters on Timor and Timor-Leste.
Exhibited: Museu do Oriente, Lisbon, 2014/15. Hong Kong University Museum and Art Gallery, 2017.
Published: Peter ten Hoopen, Woven Languages, 2014
Compare: 121 077
Literature: Similar to sarong in Khan Majlis, Woven Messages, Fig. 308. Very few pieces to compare with. As Khan Majlis wrote in 1991: 'Textiles from this region [..] have never been published to date.' Similar piece in Art Institute of Chicago, apparently acquired in 2002, No. 2002.998, published in Khan Majlis, The Art of Indonesian Textiles, The E.M. Bakwin Collection, Fig. 53. Also similar to Pusaka Collection No. 077. Clan attribution by Van Engelenhoven.
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