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Ikat from Leti, Moluccas, Indonesia

248 Moluccas, Leti

Panel for men's shawldetail  magnifiermicroscope

Origin: Moluccas, Leti
Locale: Leti Island proper, Tombra village, on north-west coast.
Period: Before 1911
Yarn: Cotton, hand-spun and commercial
Technique: Warp ikat
Panels: 2
Size: 54 x 230 cm (1' 9" x 7' 6")
Weight: 405 g (14.3 oz), 326 g/m2 (1.07 oz/ft2)
Design: One wide ikated band and twenty-three narrow ikated stripes in indigo on ecru, in vegetable dye on hand spun yarn. The main ikated motifs represent keu, ceremonial bracelets, which in Lautem on neigbouring Timor-Leste indicate high caste and presumably on Leti as well. The keu motif, a cluster of flower-like shapes, is likely to be an emulation of the patola jilamprang motif. The keu are separated by an unknown motif reminiscent of the 'double eagle' from nearby Kisar, and with finials in the form of archaic base-mointed tumpal, found across the Moluccas, especially on Kisar. The ikated stripes alternate with plain stripes in a bright reds of several shades done in commercial thread and synthetic dye. Red warp.
Comment: Most likely this is one panel of what was to become a two-panel man's shawl from Leti proper. Excellent ikat with clear drawing. As is common in this region, including the nearby islands of Kisar and Luang, the non-ikated bands and stripes were done in synthetic red dye, which came to these islands in the late 19th C. From collection of former colonial administrator, the seller's grandfather. According to a stitched-on note the cloth was acquired at Tobra on 4 March 1911. May also be a single panel cloth made for the kain timur trade with New Guinea. (See Tropenmuseum cognate, below.) Note that nearly all known kain timur are asymmetrical, presumably reflecting Papua preference.
Background: Additional information in chapters on Moluccas and Leti.
Compare: 195
Literature: The main ikated motif is identical to that on Leti sarong in this collection, PC 195, and similar to motifs on a sarong depicted in Khan Majlis, Woven Messages, Fig. 312, which was tentatively attributed to Kisar or Luang, but is almost certainly Leti, particularly given the cloth's similarity to 19th C. Leti cloth in the Tropenmuseum collection. It may a single panel cloth intended for the kain timur trade, similar to the old Kisar in Tropenmuseum, Nr. TM-2481-61, which looks like it in many respects, though it has the typically Kisarese rimanu motif. For double eagle motif see PC 281.
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