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Ikat from Lembata, Solor Archipelago, Indonesia

178 Solor Archipelago, Lembata

Kewatek (sarong)detail  magnifiermicroscope

Origin: Solor Archipelago, Lembata
Locale: Kedang, Eastern Lembata, most probably 'imported' from Ili Api.
Period: 19th to early 20th c.
Yarn: Cotton, hand-spun, coarse
Technique: Warp ikat
Panels: 3
Size: 50.5 x 203.5 cm (1' 7" x 6' 8")
Weight: 815 g (28.7 oz), 397 g/m2 (1.30 oz/ft2)
Design: Very long bridewealth sarong, wela, with plain indigo midsection and two panels with ikated bands of varying width showing tena (boats), ikan pari (sting rays), and small tumpal triangles. A few narrow stripes in fine yellow and bright blue commercial yarn, triple twined for greater thickness. Note that in the pre-1929 Vatter piece referred to below commercial yarn, probably from Chinese toko, was also used for accent stripes, and also twined. The Balauring port in Kedang had a Chinese trading community already by the early 1900s.
Comment: Kedang dowry sarong, to be given to groom's family in exchange for male items, such as elephants' tusks. Bridewealth sarongs, much longer than a normal sarong, are rarely worn. They would be folded down and used as a two tiered sarong so as to fit the bride. As explained at PC 025 a taboo forbade weaving in Kedang, except in the coastal village of Kalikur, peopled by Muslim immigrants. Such dowry sarongs were also imported from Ili Api and eastern Adonara, where they were specially made for the purpose, with indigo midfield, in Kedang considered essential. Excellent state of preservation. Given the complexity of the patterns and the presence of sting ray and boat motifs, in this case an Ili Api manufacture is the most likely.
Background: Additional information in chapters on Solor Archipelago and Lembata.
Exhibited: Hong Kong University Museum and Art Gallery, 2017.
Published: Carpet Collector 1/2015
Compare: 025
Literature: Similar to late 19th C. piece sold by Van Ham and Klefisch, 4 Dec. 2014, lot nr. 248, but nearly half a meter longer. Also similar to another example from the same period sold by the same firm on 13 June 2017, but a again third longer. Similar to kewatek in the Art Institute of Chicago, Bakwin Collection, No. 2002.1001 which is dated as ‘early 20th’ and identified as Ili Api, but given its indigo midfield, must have been made for use in Kedang.
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