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Ikat from Timor-Leste, Timor, Indonesia

286 Timor, Timor-Leste

Tais duka (shawl)detail  magnifiermicroscope

Origin: Timor, Timor-Leste
Locale: Covalima (Cova Lima), Tetun people.
Period: 1950 or before.
Yarn: Cotton, hand-spun, extremely fine, quadruple-ply
Technique: Warp ikat
Panels: 2
Size: 60 x 175 cm (1' 11" x 5' 8")
Weight: 330 g (11.6 oz), 314 g/m2 (1.03 oz/ft2)
Design: Classic design for tais duka. Field dived into four identical sections across the warp. Numerous ikated bands and stripes, the largest carrying four diman motifs per section on each panel. Morinda red weft contributes to the cloth's warm appearance. Not the chained little hexagons in the ten stripes that form the midfield. These are often seen on ikat from the Babar Islands, a little to the east.
Comment: A tais duka is one of the three specific types of men's cloths that are exchanged during marriage gift exchanges, barlake. One tais duka must be given by the bride's family. Tais duka are worn folded and draped over the shoulder by men who have the responsibility to advise family and neighbours of a death. Tais duka are also worn at harvest ceremonies and the inaugurations of sacred houses. Twisted and knotted fringes. Commercial thread had been assumed because on account of the cloth's very light weight, but microscopic inspection shows very fine hand-spun cotton, brittle with age - which suggests that the age given may well be too conservative. Red and yellow accent stripes under the microscope look more shiny than the ikated parts, which gives credence to the source's claim that they were done in letros, silk. Unlike the ikat work these were done in double-ply, not quadruple.
Background: Additional information in chapters on Timor and Timor-Leste.
Compare: 137
Literature: Very similar to tais duka in collection of Timor Aid, FS01, but probably a little older. Similar to example in Barrkman, Textiles of Cova Lima, Fig. 3. Rather similar to recent example from collection Alola Foundation in Hamilton and Barrkman, Textiles of Timor, Fig. 8.7, but with natural dyes rather than synthetic. Note the similarity to Malaka men's cloth PC 137, the result of migration flows westward from the Covalima region to Malaka.
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