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Ikat from Tanimbar, Moluccas, Indonesia

277 Moluccas, Tanimbar

Bakan or tais (sarong)  magnifiermicroscope

Origin: Moluccas, Tanimbar
Locale: Unidentified.
Period: First quarter 20th c. or 19th c.
Yarn: Cotton, hand-spun, medium
Technique: Warp ikat
Panels: 2
Size: 105.5 x 110 cm (3' 5" x 3' 7")
Weight: 395 g (13.9 oz), 340 g/m2 (1.11 oz/ft2)
Design: Sarong named bakan maran, tais marin, or tais letbokbok, depending on island region. Numerous narrow stripes of white on pale indigo ikat, with faded yellow accents. The six white bands in the middle, characteristic for the type, support the dating, as over the second quarter of the 20th c. the number increased to eleven. Traces of yellow dye, probably curcuma, show up in led-lit microscopy.
Comment: The simple ikat patterning marks this as a sarong for smaller festivities and workaday use - rarely collected. However, the cloth was ikated not just in indigo, as it would first appear, but in yellow as well, which suggests finery and high status. The yellow has largely faded, but remaining dye shows up brightly under the microscope's led-light: most likely curcuma, which both pales and bleeds. Perhaps at the time and in that island region weavers created festive attire by taking the patterning of a workaday sarong and replacing part of the white with yellow in a separate dye bath. It looks like it was worn for many years, but is in fine condition if we forgive a few tiny betel stains. Sarong was opened up, as reflected in the given dimensions. Ex collection J.B. Lüth.
Background: Additional information in chapters on Moluccas and Tanimbar.
Literature: Near-identical to what appears to be a workaday sarong worn by young girl on photo (see below) taken circa 1928 by Petrus Drabbe, in De Jonge and Van Dijk Tanimbar Maluku, Plate 12. Similar to pre-1924 Tanimbar sarong in collection Tropenmuseum, Nr. TM-234-44, but with slightly more variation in patterning.

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