Textile Iconography of South Sumatra
Hong Kong, July 9, 2014 - The Lampung District in south Sumatra is home to the most celebrated textile tradition of the Indonesian Archipelago. An area known at its core for ancient Austronesian megaliths, Bronze Age decorative influences, and the great cultural impulse of the Buddhist/Hindu state of Srivijaya a millennium ago, there also washed upon its shores a cosmopolitan world of ideas and trade goods from China, India, Arabia, and Europe exchanged for their prized Lampung pepper. From this, we witness a cultural and aesthetic hybridization at its most fertile, both esoteric and compellingly beautiful, but not widely understood. Thomas Murray, expert in Indonesian sculpture and textiles shed light on this exclusive topic by way of a thorough examination of the ritual cloth of the area. He reviewed the major weaving and dyeing artistic expressions, including the famed supplementary weft palepaiand tampan ship cloths; initiation sarongs with their rich embroidered boat and ancestor iconography, tapis; lampit mats patterned by burning with hot pokers; and the mysterious weft ikat bidak ritual cloths with their small bird and deer motifs, and others, to provide a greater understanding of the Lampung textile art form. Murray presented original research demonstrating some very early dating of certain special cloths, insights gained from radiocarbon testing. Lampung textiles will be contextualized as part of a greater SE Asian textile heritage, including looking at comparative woven structures and iconography from the Mainland, Borneo and some of the outer islands of Indonesia.
Video: Watch the complete program (1 hr., 31 min., 49 sec.)