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Ikat from Semau, Timor, Indonesia

186 Timor, Semau

Seman baklobe (shawl)detail  magnifiermicroscope

Origin: Timor, Semau
Locale: Semau, Helong people.
Period: Before 1950
Yarn: Cotton, double-ply commercial thread
Technique: Warp ikat
Panels: 3
Size: 90 x 192 cm (2' 11" x 6' 3")
Weight: 350 g (12.3 oz), 203 g/m2 (0.67 oz/ft2)
Design: An archetypical Semau design: a white central panel flanked by two narrow panels with fine ikat in a pinkish tone on a rust red ground. The twisted fringes at the transverse end carry the tiny pompons that are characteristic for Semau seman (the Helong word for Timorese beti), and are reputed to look like clove flowers. The text 'Selamat Pakaltoepa' ('Protect Pakaltoepa' or 'Protect Pak Altoepa') has been woven into the border of each of the four sections of the side panels.
Comment: Overall design with central white panel flanked by ikated panels is similar to beti from nearby Amarasi region on Timor. The design however, with its elongated diamonds, is typical for Semau, and quite distinct from Amarasi. Side panels are also slighly narrower. The piece is quite rare. Khan Majlis in Woven Messages, 'Only a very few textiles are available to date from the small island of Semau opposite Kupang on the west coast of Timor.' This is the first Semau in any condition encountered on the market since we began collecting in the mid 1970s. Cloth is a little wider at one end than at the other. A dozen or so small tears, some repaired; midfield smudged with colour of side panels.
Background: Additional information in chapters on Timor and Semau.
Compare: 162 191
Literature: Near identical to Semau baklobe in Yoshimoto, Ikat, Fig 172, and to one in Khan Majlis, Woven Messages, Fig. 250. Very similar to one from collection Georges Breguet in Yeager and Jacobson, Textiles of Western Timor, Plate 32; also very similar (apparently even with respect to smudging) to presumed early 20th C. baklobe in Fowler Museum, depicted in Hamilton and Barrkman, Textiles of Timor, Fig. 2.16.
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