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Ikat from Timor-Leste, Timor, Indonesia

292 Timor, Timor-Leste

Beti (blanket)detail  magnifiermicroscope

Origin: Timor, Timor-Leste
Locale: Ambenu (Ocusi), the East-Timorese exclave in West-Timor. Village in the lower elevations. Atoni people.
Period: 1950 or before
Yarn: Medium hand-spun cotton for ikated areas, quadruple-ply commercial cotton for accent stripes
Technique: Warp ikat
Panels: 2
Size: 83 x 180 cm (2' 8" x 5' 10")
Weight: 555 g (19.6 oz), 371 g/m2 (1.22 oz/ft2)
Design: Beti of the type that Yeager and Jacobson call 'mutliple design stripe', which is typical for Ambenu. The two widest ikated panels are decorated with the traditional Atoni 'katak' (lit. 'frog') motif, an anthropomorph made to look very much like a zoomorph - often in combination with smaller motifs of the same kind emerging from between the legs of the larger. They are generally interpreted as standing for the individual in his or her line of ancestry. The head may be depicted, as in this piece, or merely suggested. The two narrower ikated bands are decorated with looping figures of unknown significance that are also used in the kingdom of Mollo, to the southwest of Ambenu. They may well represent crocodiles as these are a powerful totem on Timor and come in myriad forms from stylized figuration to deformation beyond recognition. The field is created by numerous stippled stripes in parallel, in a variety of pastel shades.
Comment: Appears to be the first published example of Ambenu ikat with katak motif. The weaver has chosen a simple, yet decidedly uncommon method to achieve the asymmetry that in Ambenu (as opposed to Insana, Mollo, Amanuban and other nearby parts of West Timor) is de regueur. She simply reversed one of the two identical warp skeins that were created in parallel. See image below, in which the rightmost panel was flipped vertically to show that the two are in fact identical.
Background: Additional information in chapters on Timor and Timor-Leste.
Compare: 002 169 118 256 189
Literature: Very similar to Amanuban men's wrap in the Krefeld collection, depicted in Khan-Majlis, Indonesische Textilien, FIg. 457, except that here (Amanuban rather than Ambenu) the ikated bands are symmetrical, not reversed, and the narrower ikated bands flank the wider on the outside, rather than on the inside. Another difference is that on the Krefeldt example the human figures are headless. Main motif very similar to 1900 Amanuban on Fig. 456; and to 'katak' from Amanuban in Yeager and Jacobson, Textiles of Timor, human motifs, Fig 45i. Field-collector Aja Bordeville on her website shows a sarong from Mollo (REF#MOL699) with a main motif that is very similar to the motif of the side bands in this piece.

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