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Ikat from East Sumba, Sumba, Indonesia

228 Sumba, East Sumba

Hinggi (men's blanket)detail  magnifiermicroscope

Origin: Sumba, East Sumba
Locale: Locale not identified.
Period: 1930-1945
Yarn: Cotton, hand-spun, fine, double-ply
Technique: Warp ikat
Panels: 2
Size: 97 x 255 cm (3' 2" x 8' 4")
Weight: 495 g (17.5 oz), 200 g/m2 (0.66 oz/ft2)
Design: Classical eleven-band field division. Midfield, kundu duku, with patola-inspired patola ratu motif. Flanked on both sides with bands with cocks and aquatic animals, probably the ferocious sea-worms. Next come bands with deer with large antlers, a mark of the nobility, skull trees, and sceptres derived from Dutch heraldry. The next bands have lettering, a very unusual feature, spelling out LEO R.M. and a mirrored version, presumably the name of the wearer. The widest ikated bands have various zoomorphic motifs, the final bands have a repeat of the cock motif.
Comment: Old hinggi kawaru made, unlike most, not for the common man but for a nobleman, witness the patola ratu motif in the mid section - an exclusive prerogative of the ruling families - and use, however sparing, of overdying with morinda (largely faded away). The horse motif underlines this noble aspect, as horses on Sumba have always stood for wealth and power. Excellent ikating with smooth curves and diagonals. Yarn up close looks a little roughed-up, brittle with age. Dyes have lost some saturation, but in combination with the creamy white of the cotton (enhanced by unusual ochre weft revealed by microscope) give the piece a gentle presence, unlike many younger blue Sumba hinggi, which can appear rather harsh. The lettering is very unusual - the very fact that the weaver mastered the alphabet again suggests high rank, as literacy among women was very limited in colonial days. It is probably talismanic, representive of protective powers through its association with the long established colonial power. From old Dutch collection.
Background: Additional information in chapters on Sumba and East Sumba.
Compare: 027 096 194
Literature: So far no other example known of an old Sumba hinggi with lettering. If you know of another example please share your information by clicking on the button.
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