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Ikat from West Timor, Timor, Indonesia

162 Timor, West Timor

Blanket  magnifiermicroscope

Origin: Timor, West Timor
Locale: Could be Semau, or Kupang region in Western Timor.
Period: Circa 1950
Yarn: Cotton, hand-spun, plus pinstripes in commercial cotton.
Technique: Warp ikat
Panels: 3
Size: 117 x 165 cm (3' 10" x 5' 4")
Weight: 735 g (25.9 oz), 381 g/m2 (1.25 oz/ft2)
Design: Three panel man's shoulder cloth with unusual design: white centre field and two wide bands with doves in flight in white on dark morinda red background. The overall lay-out and the colour arrangement are typical for Semau, and Helong cloths in general, and for Amarasi cloths. The meandering patterns and the bird motif, however, strongly resemble those found on some Rotinese lafa. The bird motif was most likely inspired by old Dutch needlepoint patterns, an influence often seen in Sikka, Savu and Roti cloths, but not at all among the Helong.
Comment: Visually attractive, and highly unusual piece, illustrative of the region's interculturality. Overall design similar to man's blankets from Timor's Amarasi region and from that of the offshore island of Semau, but deviating from both traditions. Probably made by a creative weaver of Rotinese or Savunese origin (many Rotinese and Savunese live on Semau and in the Kupang region of Timor) for Amarasi or Helong husband. Hand spun yarn except a few very narrow accent stripes. Shows signs of wear and laundering, but no holes. Notwithstanding the fairly coarse hand spun yarn, the cloth has a pleasantly soft feel. Fragment below shows similar bird motifs on a Roti sarong from the Susi Johnston collection.

Background: Additional information in chapters on Timor and West Timor.
Published: Carpet Collector 1/2016
Compare: 192 186
Literature: No truly similar cloth was encountered in literature or museum collections. Sue and David Richardson pointed out the similarity between meandering patterns on Roti cloths, and the resemblance of the bird motif with that found on some Roti textiles, using examples from the Susi Johnston collection. Susi Johnston notes that Rotinese women often married men from nearby islands, particularly high-ranking or especially beautiful Rotinese women. For comparison see Semau cloth in Khan Majlis, Woven Messages, Fig. 250.
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