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Ikat from Timor-Leste, Timor, Indonesia

256 Timor, Timor-Leste

Beti (blanket)detail  magnifiermicroscope

Origin: Timor, Timor-Leste
Locale: Ambenu (Ocusi), the East-Timorese exclave in West-Timor. Capital Pante Macassar or village in the lower elevations. Atoni people.
Period: 1920-1930
Yarn: Cotton, hand-spun and commercial
Technique: Warp ikat
Panels: 2
Size: 103.5 x 210 cm (3' 4" x 6' 10")
Weight: 1005 g (35.5 oz), 462 g/m2 (1.51 oz/ft2)
Design: Beti naik (men's blanket in Dawan) decorated with wide bands of white on indigo ikat, alternated with stripes stipple-ikated also in white on indigo, and plain red, indigo, yellow, peach and sienna pinstripes, with a warm red overall tonality. The main motif, a variant of the traditional kaif, represents ancestral relationships. The Ambenu preference for asymmetry is manifest in the ikated bands, which are subtly distinct from each other, rather than copies made by warp doubling as is common across the border in neigbouring Amanuban Atoni territory.
Comment: Substantial example of Atoni style, with excellent, clear ikat work according to Ambenu traditions. Main motif very similar on (nearby) Amanuban motif in Bezemer, 'Indonesisch Kunstgewerbe, Fig. 42. A densely woven piece with weight and gravitas. A true 'Joseph's cloth' to borrow Steven Alpert's term. While between the ikated bands done in hand spun run pinstripes in triple-ply commercial yarn, there can be little doubt that this is an early 20th C cloth. Older than our Ambenu PC 002, which is done entirely in hand spun cotton. As hand spun cotton was still used in isolated Ambenu till roughly the early 1960s, the fact that this old cloth has commercial cotton pinstripes presumably indicates that it was made in a wealthy family that could afford such indulgences. Five tiny holes, otherwise in excellent state of conservation.

In deviation from the majority of Atoni cloths, this one must have a brother. Ikat here is always done with a doubled over warp bed so as to create two identical panels which are joined at the selvedges. In this case two different sets must have been made, of near-identical, but subtly different design, both in terms of motifs and the width of individual bands.
Background: Additional information in chapters on Timor and Timor-Leste.
Exhibited: Hong Kong University Museum and Art Gallery, 2017.
Compare: 002
Literature: Very similar to beti naik from Taiboko village in Yeager and Jacobson, Textiles of Western Timor, Plate 194; very to rather similar to Fig. 149 and Plates 192, 193. See also Chapter Very similar to Ambenu beti in Fundação Oriente, Povos de Timor, Povo de Timor, p. 23 Fig, 2. Also similar to our PC 002, but several decades older.
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