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Ikat from Adonara, Solor Archipelago, Indonesia

284 Solor Archipelago, Adonara

Kewatek (sarong)detail  magnifiermicroscope

Origin: Solor Archipelago, Adonara
Locale: Unidentified.
Period: 19th c.
Yarn: Cotton, hand-spun, medium, and silk
Technique: Warp ikat
Panels: 2
Size: 71 x 133 cm (2' 3" x 4' 4")
Design: Ceremonial or festive sarong for woman of high status. Wide and narrow bands of morinda red and indigo, with snaking geometrical design, reminiscences of patola motifs such as tumpal and jilamprang. Garnished with very narrow stripes (most only two threads wide) in silk trade thread, mostly gold-yellow, which was available in eastern Nusa Tenggara from the 19th c. up until World War II.
Comment: One of the most elaborately decorated old Adonara textiles known, almost certainly woven for royalty. Extremely rare, only four other pieces of comparable age and quality known to be extant, including our PC 130. All natural dyes, except the silk garnishing. Overall tonality brown and golden. Very attractive sarong showing its age and its use as a pusaka, but in excellent overall condition. One small old repair in a plain band, not affecting motifs.
Background: Additional information in chapters on Solor Archipelago and Adonara.
Exhibited: Hong Kong University Museum and Art Gallery, 2017.
Published: HALI 192, 2017.
Compare: 130
Literature: Near-identical to dowry kewatek from Hinga, Adonara, collected by Ernst Vatter in 1928/29 - then already considered old. Vatter's is depicted in Barnes, Ostindonesien im 20. Jahrhundert, Auf den Spuren der Sammlung Vatter, Abb. 189. Also near-identical to one in Barnes & Kahlenberg, Five Centuries of Indonesian Textiles, Plate 97. The motifs are so similar to those on a kewatek in the Art Institute of Chicago, Bakwin Collection, No. 2002.1001 (dated as ‘early 20th’ and identified as Ili Api, but given its indigo midfield, must have been made for use in Kedang) that the two were likely made by the same weaver. As Barnes writes, Ernst Vatter thought that the few Adonara pieces he saw must have been woven on another island, but Barnes is firm that such pieces were indeed woven on Adonara island, in coastal villages such as Tanah Boleng. As she indicates 'Heute sind diese Sarong sehr selten.' ('Nowadays such sarongs are very rare.') Vatter's specimen below:

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