AGE: – Unknown not new
CONSTRUCTION: – cotton, shells
DESCRIPTION: – Indonesian Sumbawa Hand Woven Ikat Textile
LENGTH: – 233cm
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Beautifully detailed old Indonesian Sumbawa Hand Woven Ikat textile richly decorated with shells and beaded motifs of human tribal figures and mythological animals which all tell a story. Often shells were sewn onto the textiles, with glass beads being added or combined with the shells at a later time, adding to the story. The coloured glass beads are not factory manufactured as they are irregular in shape, so assuming they also have some age.
The Indonesian Ikat is a method of weaving whereupon the thread which is used in this cloth is possibly hemp or other naturally dyed fibre, either on the warp or weft and in a double Ikat on both the weft and the warp. using natural local plant dye’s found in their surrounding habitat before it is then woven to create specific designs.
The designs woven into an ikat textile holds special symbolic meaning to the beliefs and customs of the ethnic groups in which they originate, no two are the same. In Malaysia and Indonesia Ikat means to knot or bind and is a dye resist technique.
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Two sets of knots are used to produce the basic three-color design. All knots resist the initial indigo dye and only un-knotted areas become blue. After one set of knots has been opened the threads are re-dyed red: this dyes the newly exposed white sections an earthy red, and over-dyes the indigo with red to produce a blue-black.
Opening the second set of knots reveals sections of thread that have received neither dye and will be white in the woven textile. A pure blue is obtained by returning the threads to the warping frame and tying a third set of knots over the indigo work before the red dye process begins.
To obtain a light blue this must be done part way through the indigo dying process. In traditional work, only natural dyes are used. Blue and red predominate.
The indigo blue is from the young leaves of the leguminous indigo plant (indigofera tinctoria).
The red is made from the bark of the roots of the morinda tree (morinda citrifolia).
Each set of threads receives up to a half-a-dozen applications of each dye.
Indigo is only collectable during the annual monsoon when new growth blooms. Conversely, morinda root is harvested during the dry season when the dye-bearing sap retreats into the roots. To achieve a deep saturation of color the dyer will often need to work through several seasons across a number of years. Time consuming though the tying and dyeing processes are, it is the slow curing of the dyes that takes the most time.
This textile is from our collection purchased in Indonesia more than 30 years ago. Textiles with shells made in the Sumba region of Sumatra are referred to as Lau Wuti Kau. To learn more about these textiles this is an excellent website with several examples of Lau Wuti Kau textiles.