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FIVE CENTURIES of INDONESIAN TEXTILES


MARY HUNT KAHLENBERG ( 1940 – 2011 ) OVER MORE THAN THREE DECADES ASSEMBLED THE WORLD’S MOST IMPORTANT AND BEAUTIFUL COLLECTION OF INDONESIAN TEXTILES REMAINING IN PRIVATE HANDS.


ABOUT THE MARY HUNT K AHLENBERG INDONESIAN COLLECTION

The 349 Indonesian textiles in the Kahlenberg collection cover the span of the Indonesian islands from Aceh to Irian Jaya and through the Moluccas. Indonesia has an impressive history as being a place where it was constantly visited by religious leaders and merchants. Because of its history from animism to Hinduism, to Buddhism, to Islam and finally to Christianity, Indonesia oΩ­­­­­ers an important, unique and fascinating perspective of these different religions’ influences and the layering on the social and political life of the various cultures throughout the archipelago. The Indonesian textile collection has the most radio-carbon dated textiles of any private collection in the world. There are five 15th century textiles including one from South Sumatra, one from Timor and three from Sulawesi. Also included is the earliest known batik dated from the late 15th to the early 17th century. All the textiles were selected by Kahlenberg with the following criteria: beauty, quality of technical excellence, age, cultural integrity, area representation and condition. All the textiles are in excellent condition, or were conserved under Kahlenberg’s supervision, and are ready for exhibition. The textiles represent all major weaving and batik areas with a thorough representation. Important textile areas including Java, South Sumatra, Bali and the Toraja areas of Sulawesi are emphasized with a wide range of historically important styles. The islands of Leti, Alor, Kisar, Tannimbar and Halmalera are each represented with a smaller number of outstanding rare textiles. All the textiles are photographed, catalogued and organized in geographic notebooks. Five Centuries of Indonesian Textiles, an award winning book showcasing 101 pieces from the collection is still in print, though will sell out in a few years. The rights to re-publish will transfer to the museum receiving the collection. A donor’s name could be added to the title with Kahlenberg’s position changed to “collected by” her. Kahlenberg started collecting the textiles in 1978. Assembling a collection of this magnitude and excellence would now be impossible.


CLOSE OBSERVATIONS AND PRICELESS MEMORIES Mary Hunt Kahlenberg

The word subtle comes from the Latin sub tilis, meaning “finely woven, fine, thin, refined, keen,” and from the French sub tela, meaning “beneath the weaving or web.” In reference to perception, subtle is defined as “marked by insight or sensitivity demanding skill and ingenuity.” Subtlety is the quintessence of Indonesian textiles. The world of Indonesian textiles opened to me when I received a letter and photographs from the Dutch scholar and dealer Laurens Langewis offering to sell a small group of Indonesian cloths. Langewis was coauthor, with Frits A. Wagner, of the popular and well-illustrated book Decorative Art in Indonesian Textiles (1964, published in Amsterdam). At the time, I was curator in charge of Eastern Hemisphere textiles at the Textile Museum in Washington, D.C. When I spread the photographs of the Indonesian cloths across my desk, I looked hard and longingly at them and immediately fetched Langewis’s book for more information. One photo in particular sparked my curiosity; it was a tapis, a Sumatran garment with a design similar to what I later came to know as cumi cumi—thought to be a representation of squid (figure 1). Every detail of it was fascinating: blocks of ikat revealed linear human or animal forms shown in a decisive stylized manner, with two wide contrasting bands of unrecognizable sensuous creatures carefully embroidered in shimmering white unspun silk. Looking through his book, I was totally captivated by the rich complexity of designs, the exquisite quality of their technique—hand-drawn resist dyeing or batik and a range of weaving techniques—done on a simple body-tension loom. Still, I could not rationally explain my desire to pursue them. Although it was unfortunate that none of these textiles entered the Textile Museum’s collection, they firmly seated themselves in my memory. This introduction to Indonesian textiles was a major turning point for me, and after I moved west in 1969 to become head of the Costume and Textile Department at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), my wish to pursue this relatively unknown area came to the fore and I traveled to those far-off tropical islands to acquire Indonesian textiles for the museum. I organized the 1977 “Textile Traditions of Indonesia” exhibition at LACMA, the first major presentation of these textiles in America. It was my farewell exhibition before moving on to travel and study more about Indonesia on my own account. Once I began my roamings from one island to another, I developed a connection with the people, the villages, and the cities and began to form an understanding of the layering of complex religious thought and history of these island peoples. My sense of the depth of Indonesian culture, then and now, is that it would take many lifetimes to even begin to understand the riches there, and that my fascination would never end. Indeed, I have spent more than thirty-five years developing a visual and scholarly understanding of Indonesia and its textiles, and much of this book reflects that pursuit. Driving this search is a passion for the objects themselves. During the years after leaving LACMA, I put aside selected textiles I had acquired with the intention of building a collection of outstanding quality, rather than an encyclopedic or comprehensive representation of the textiles made on Indonesia’s many islands. My approach to collecting is informed by years of museum training and curatorship and the knowledge that great collections are patiently formed. Over the past ten years I have focused on rare textiles as well as those of considerable age. These are discussed by Ruth Barnes in her essay “Early Indonesian Textiles: Scientific Dating in a Wider Context.” My areas of emphasis are Lampung, the Toraja area of South Sulawesi, and Java, along with Maluku. To my surprise, when I first reviewed my holdings, I found that I had tucked away slightly more than 350 textiles, mostly ceremonial costumes. Textiles have been added to the collection whenever and wherever I could find a great example. Acquiring textiles in Indonesia is a pleasure, though accompanied by an unaccustomed degree of heat and humidity. I have fond memories of traveling to villages and meeting weavers and families who shared their treasures with me. Many textiles were also acquired from local dealers. Dealers from all over Indonesia would arrive at my doorstep at dawn with bundles of assorted offerings. I remember in particular a young man I had met at a ceremony the previous day. He had walked through the night to show me this rag covered with mud. I could see enough to tellthat it was a rare, early, and finely woven mbesa tali tau batu (plate 70), but because I was scheduled to depart in five minutes and had no time to open it safely and actually see the condition of the cloth, I made him a quick and reasonable offer. We settled as I stepped into my waiting jeep.


The design of this remarkably refined, densely patterned, and sophisticated textile is extraordinary. The fineness of the pattern elements, the degree to which they visually interlock with each other, and the rendering of motifs both in brown-on-white, as well as white-on-brown, makes it difficult to discern the separate design elements. In the diagram presented here (figure 1a), the pattern repeat is isolated. On the left half all the motifs are shown, in the orientation and respective place in which they occur, so that their position in the woven pattern can be better understood. On the right half the motifs are shown upright, but still in their original place in the repeat. The textile comprises three types of pattern repeats, interlocked and multiplied many times along the length of the cloth in seamless repetition to create the overall field. The first is an overall field of white diamonds of different sizes, from large to small. The second shows fine, undulating white tendrils, possibly indicating new-growth plants. The third is a field of very small figures. The repeat is about six inches wide and contains twenty-seven motifs. It extends from the outer selvage to the largest mandala-like stepped diamond in the center of the panel, a shape that is familiar from the geringsing cloths of Bali. It is then mirror-symmetrically repeated in the direction of the second selvage, just before it ends in a half of the mandala motif. At this point it is presumed that it would have been attached to a second panel of the original cloth. Assuming that one edge of the cloth was worn somewhere near the lower leg, the motifs would read vertically upward toward the large mandala diamond. Four vertical progressions of the motifs inter-lock side by side, filling all areas so no open spaces remain. The motifs, progressing from left to right and reading up each of the four vertical progressions, include: in the first column, 1) abstract ancestor figure symbolizing a source of new generational growth; 2) four-petaled diamond-lotus; 3) foliate diamond; 4) miniature upright-inverted cosmic tree; 5) four-petaled diamond-lotus; 6) version of dentate/abstract human figure, here as a new growth sprout; 7) stepped-diamond yantra with new growth forms in each quadrant; in the second column, 1) bird, abstracted with long tail; 2) bird with foliate tail; 3 and 4) bird, abstracted with long tail; 5) bird; in the third column, 1) dentate abstract ancestor figure; 2) antlered deer looking back over its shoulder; 3) bird, abstracted with one wing only raised up along its neck; 4) antlered deer; 5) miniature tree growing from atop a miniature structure or gate with a bird’s head facing left; 6 and 7) bird, abstracted with long tail; and in the fourth column, 1) dentate abstract ancestor figure; 2) new growth sprout; 3) stepped diamond yantra with “endless knot”; 4) scorpion with new-growth tail; 5) schematized decapitated human sacrifice with three growth sprouts emerging form the neck; 6) schematized decapitated human sacrifice with schematized lotus, a tree sprouting from its neck; 7) miniature upright-inverted cosmic tree; and 8) four-petaled diamond-lotus. The creatures depicted represent three worlds: birds of the upper world, deer of the middle world, and scorpions of the lower world. This pattern was likely meant for aristocratic use, when it may have been associated with a solar deity. As such these cloths would have been greatly desired by Lampung and Komering lineage heads, some of whom apparently saw themselves as linked to the sun. Some motifs are less clear or in an iconographically reduced state in this monochrome version. Other motifs are very precisely articulated here, with additional pattern elements not found to date on polychrome versions. Ideally, several versions of this type of cloth require comparison to see all motifs in their variations and full articulation. Where they were made and who was to use them remains enigmatic. They are sometimes reputed to have been imported from Java, but to date they have no published parallels in contemporaneous designs from that island.

heirloom ceremonial cloth, bidak probably one-half, possible origin Java collected Komering River area, north Lampung, South Sumatra, fifteenth century


Silk warp, cotton weft, gold gimp Weft-faced plain weave, weft ikat 9 ft. 1 7/8 × 37 inches, (279 × 94 cm)


In southeast Sumatra, richly patterned silk weft ikat textiles were restricted to royal courts; those from Palembang and the neighboring islands of the Riau Archipelago and Banka were the most celebrated. The arts of these courts were influenced by India, the Middle East, China, and, later, Europe. Luxury silk textiles from these areas, most importantly India, were brought as gifts and for trade. The design arrangement of center fields with end panels often echo the design format found on the Indian imports. Kain limar is the name given to weft ikat patterning. Related weft ikat textiles were also produced on the Malay Peninsula. It was reported in 1909 that many Sumatran weavers lived and worked on the Malay Peninsula, although considering their close relationship over the years it is likely that weft ikat was an established technique in both areas. Warp ikat was also known in the peninsula, though it was not as familiar. The most striking features of this textile are the borders and end panel, both embroidered with considerable skill and delicacy. Malay embroidery may have both Indian and Chinese influence. In the tenth century, kings of Sumatra with Indian names wore “flowered silk adorned with pearls” and used “canopies of feathers and embroidered curtains,” while in the early fifteenth century the Chinese emperor sent “velvets, silks and gauzes embroidered with gold” to the kings of Malacca. As part of the Malay world, Palembang would have fallen under these influences. At the end of the eighteenth century, gold and silver thread for embroidery was imported from China, as were needles; in the mid-nineteenth century Chinese male embroiderers were sent from Manila. There was a tradition of Chinese women marrying into the highest levels of the Palembang aristocracy, and some of these women did their own embroidery. However, this elegant work was most likely done by a professional. The double shades of the floral elements, worked in satin stitch, are frequently seen in Chinese embroidery for home and export markets. Nowadays the embroidery of all the borders uses colored silks and sequins in a combination of techniques referred to in Palembang as angkinan. The side borders feature a recalcitrant spiral or running arabesque motif with an acanthus leaf and floral motifs. This arabesque is referred to locally as ombak, or wave. Two wide end borders (only one shown here) have a triple border composition typical of Palembang shoulder cloths. These more elaborate end borders use an arabesque to encase single flowers and a gracefully curved flowering plant. The curvilinearity of these border shapes is typically Malay, though the imagery is reminiscent of Persian, Indian, and Europeanstyle motifs popular in the late nineteenth century.

shoulder cloth, kain limar Palembang, South Sumatra Nineteenth Century Silk, gold and silver threads, handmade metal sequins Plain weave, weft ikat and double-sided embroidery 80 1 / 2 × 34 1 / 4 inches, (204 × 87 cm)


Man’s ceremonial dress cloth, kain gringsing North Coast Java, collected in Pare-Pare, Sulawesi possibly early Nineteenth Century

This textile was collected from a Buginese family in Pare-Pare (west coast of Sulawesi). Possibly an ancestor of the family was a member of one of the elite Bugis mercenary corps, which for several centuries served different Javanese rulers as well as the Dutch East India Company. In the early nineteenth century, a Bugis regiment formed part of the palace guard of Yogyakarta. Several technical aspects indicate that the cloth was woven and waxed on Java. The width of approximately five hand spans (kilan) is the common height of a hand-loomed Javanese skirt cloth. The small white border, waxed first to enclose and symbolically contain the patterns of the main field, is characteristic of a Javanese batik. Surprisingly, a contemporary gringsing version that resembles the archaic style continues to be made in villages of the Tuban area (East Java). Both cloths show spidery white patterns that produce a shimmering effect on the saturated, deep black ground. The motifs are drawn in finely dotted or short straight lines on a blue-black ground. The waxing method appears a vestige of a technical phase rooted in the dawn of Indonesian batik, as similarly dotted patterns also occur on the fifteenth-to-seventeenth-century resist-dyed ma(w)a from Sulawesi and on the archaic kain simbut of southwest Java. The reddish-brown seepings in the patterns further suggest similarities with the East Javanese dye process, in which repeated immersions in the indigo tub are followed by a reddish-brown overdye. The deep black is the result of a final, darkening mud fixation. Two antique batiks of a quite similar design were encountered on Bali. Like the patterns of the two Javanese batiks, those of the Balinese textiles stand out in the natural color of the cotton against a dark blue-black ground. The main motifs of the batik cloths, especially the large stars and the general division of the field, somewhat resemble the gringsing lubheng pattern on double ikat cloths from Tenganan, southeastern Bali. Though the banded horizontal elements of the batik versions are quite distinct from the double ikat pattern, enough of a similarity exists to argue that this pattern at one time might have been an imitation of (or a substitute for) the double ikat cloth from Tenganan. Even so, the East Javanese cloth is also known as gringsing, which according to the villagers refers to the protective powers ascribed to the contrasting black-and-white colors. The term gringsing, meaning “without (or against) illness,” is derived from Sanskrit and used in Old Javanese and in Balinese. On Java the use of protective gringsing cloths is mentioned already in the twelfthcentury Pararaton (Book of Kings); Raden Wijaya, the incumbent first ruler of the well-known East Javanese kingdom Majapahit, prepares his men for battle by issuing his closest followers with cloths to be wrapped into knee-length breeches (lancingan gringsing) and the lower ranks with loincloths (cawet gringsing). The colors of the warriors’ cloths may well have resembled the contrasting dark blue-black and white, but the exact technique remains unknown. Whatever the case, the protective purpose of such different cloths known from Java and Bali forms the common aspect.


Hand-spun, handwoven cotton, natural dyes Hand-waxed, natural indigo dyed, overdyed with brownish red; mud fixation 8 ft. 8 7/ 8 × 38 inches, ­­­­­(266 × 97 cm)


hanging or canopy, langit-langit India or Macau and Central Java possibly Yogyakarta, Central Java late Eighteenth or early Nineteenth Century Imported hand-spun cotton base cloth, natural dyes, gold overlay (perada) Hand-waxed, naturally indigo dyed and (faded) soga tan, gold decoration (perada) hand-hemmed 10 ft. 2 1⁄2 inches × 40 3⁄4 inches (311 × 104 cm)


A small tag with the name Fairchild attached to a corner discloses that the cloth was acquired by the botanist David Fairchild when he was engaged in plant research on Java at various times between 1896 and 1940.1 The last date seems the most likely, as his wife Marian “Daisy� Graham Bell came along on that trip. The hand-spun base cloth is either from India or Macau, as the weft exceeds the maximum possible width of a hand-loomed cloth woven on Java. The main field is surrounded by a small white border (seret). The archaic fabric suggests an early-nineteenth-century date, which infers that the cloth may have been a carefully kept heirloom when acquired by Fairchild. At first sight the color of the cloth seems pure indigo blue, but traces of now-faded soga dye are visible on the back. A rich layer of gold covers the full expanse of the cloth, which indicates that it served as a hanging or a canopy (langit-langit) over a wedding bed rather than as a dress cloth. Additional evidence includes a few tears at one corner and finely hand-sewn hems on the long sides that render the cloth more suitable to be hung. The design is a unique early form of a well-knownYogyakarta semen,


tubular skirt cloth, sarung Pekalongan, East Java, and possibly Madura first quarter Twentieth Century Imported industrial cotton, wax Hand-waxed, synthetic red and black, brush-dyed (colet) blue and green accents; opened up at the seam 80 3⁄8 × 41 1⁄2 inches (204 × 105 cm)

This buoyant cloth is in many ways representative of the new styles and techniques of the early twentieth century. By then synthetic dyes imported from Germany had been accepted in the batik industry; they were easy to apply and enabled lower prices than natural dyes. The wider choice of dye techniques and shades made possible the fiery red and deep green contrast of this cloth and also the brushed-in blue and green accents in the kepala. The relatively narrow width of the fabric indicates that it was a moderately priced product. The design shows a hybrid modification of the format and floral designs that were initially made and worn by Indo-Europeans. The kepala is drawn at approximately one hand width from the actual “head” of the cloth and edged, like the selvages, with so-called “lace” (rendah) or “bow” (boow) borders. A popular trend of the period was depicting sizable bouquets of European stemmed flowers to decorate the main field as well as the kepala. Originally designed by Elisa van Zuylen, this colorful buketan style, though long known as batik Pekalongan, is currently referred to as “Dutch batik” (batik Belanda). Hybrid cloths of this type were made in Chinese workshops for a wide clientele. This is not a cloth for the elite. The main subject speaks to local middle-class sensibilities. The partially European, partially Chinese pictorial style sketches an image of spring and blazing youth that is far more lively than the sweet, somewhat static flower arrangements of the European floral designs. Even though cock fights were introduced from India or possibly China centuries before, these fighting cocks in fierce action (adu jago) stand for indigenous ideas that live among the coastal population of East Java and Madura. The jago (fighting cock), emblem of male prowess, has lent its name to the strongmen holding sway in many an East Javanese village. In contrast to the hostile cocks, the lovebirds—quail or partridges—perched in the blossoming white peony trees above them portray harmonious unity in a typically Javanese effort to balance any situation. The trees, apart from being a Chinese symbol of spring, add another Javanese touch by serving as partition between the different design sections, thereby reminding the beholder of the use of the tree-form (pohon or made the cloth a perfect bridal gift from an East Javanese or Madurese groom.


ceremonial textile South Sulawesi, Bugis People Twentieth Century Cotton, silk, Weft-faced plain weave, continuous and discontinuous weft and continuous supplementary weft, macram fringe 13 ft. 3 inches Ă— 27 1â „2 inches (404 Ă— 70 cm)

The Bugis are renowned for the quality of their silk weaving, producing sarongs of such fineness that some can be drawn through a wedding ring. The Bugis favor plaid patterns, which have become a distinctive marker of identity for them, though the exact meanings of such patterns are rarely articulated. Similarly checkered cotton sarongs produced in South Sulawesi were widely exported to other parts of the archipelago, where they were valued for their durability; they found particular favor among the Malays. The development of this export trade seems to have gone hand in hand with Islamization, and the compatibility of the plaid to Islamic norms of nonfigurative representation may have aided its popularity in Muslim areas. As items of luxury, silk textiles still serve as status markers in South Sulawesi. This piece, made of cotton but enriched with silk, is unusual in being exceptionally long and narrow. The exact manner of its use is not known. Its vibrant color scheme of greens and dark pinks is enlivened by the delicate quality of the decorative elements. A triangular pattern of tiny lozenges has been worked into the fringe with macram, a knotting technique thought to have originated in thirteenth-century Arabia.


breast or shoulder cloth, anteng, or cerik songket endek Possibly Bubunan, Buleleng, North Bali late Nineteenth Century


The art of producing songket and endek and the use of these precious silk cloths were originally closely linked to traditional princely families. In these circles, theater and dance performances, temple and death ceremonies, tooth-filings, and weddings were celebrated in full festive dress with glittering textiles. The manufacture of these luxury fabrics was the prerogative of aristocratic and Brahman ladies who in this way contributed to the display of power and splendor of the princely courts. The festive apparel of aristocratic families and of dancers was basically restricted to rectangular textiles of various sizes, such as elegantly draped hip cloths, wrapped breast or shoulder cloths, and sashes. Expensive imported raw materials—silk, dyes, gold and silver metal thread—as well as elaborate production methods enhanced the great value of these sumptuous and prestigious symbols of a courtly culture. This woman’s cloth may have been wrapped tightly around the upper body as an anteng, also called cerik or senteng, or eventually draped over one shoulder as a selendang. The field design is composed of pairs of triangles in songket and endek technique, which produces a contrast between alternate songket gold and

Silk, gold and silver metal thread Plain weave, continuous and discontinuous supplementary weft, weft ikat 9 ft. 11 inches × 14 1⁄2 inches (302 × 37 cm)


fragment, possibly from a ceremonial hanging Central Sulawesi, Fifteenth Century

This fragment is one of the earliest known textiles from Indonesia. It was made in the second half of the fifteenth century at the latest. The red dye saturation is exceptional and achieves a rich soft tone, further enhanced by red weft threads. The thread is finely spun. The ikat work, though, is not precise. It has none of the hallmarks of quality workmanship that we see in the tubular skirt from Sulawesi or in a contemporary example from Komering, Sumatra. The animals depicted are naively drawn, and there is no attempt at intricacy in the patterns. This may be due to regional preference, but an additional technical flaw is that the ikat outlines have moved out of line during weaving, giving a blurred appearance to the pattern. To realign them would be an essential step wherever a precise and sharp ikat design is valued. Either this was not considered important in the locale where the cloth was produced, or the weaver was careless. Despite these technical shortcomings, the animal patterns on the fragment are remarkable. Two red deer are visible; the hind legs of a third also survive. They have curving antlers and long slender necks, and they seem to be kneeling on their front legs, with their forelegs delicately raised at an angle. They confront a large, four-lobed cross or flower, possibly a highly stylized lotus. Their posture of arching backs, curving antlers, and raised front legs is remarkably similar to the delicate small “dancing” deer on the contemporary fifteenth-century ikat cloth from Komering, although the deer there are rendered in a far simpler manner. A much later, very fine large hanging from the Rongkong or Mamasa Toraja, now in the Metropolitan Museum in New York, still seems to reflect these early deer images. In addition to the deer, three white (undyed) quadrupeds are preserved. It is impossible to say with certainty which animal they represent. It could be a horse or the misreading of a camel or elephant seen on a foreign prototype. There is a distant similarity to large elephant figures found on tampan from South Sumatra, although color and technique are not shared. Apart from the large animal figures, the wide ikat band is filled completely with white and red circles, diamonds, and pattern elements that cannot be identified. Small triangles mark where the weaver began tying the ikat design. A continuous vine runs along the outer border (selvage) in a narrow band, and a slightly wider ikat band with linked diamonds and half-diamonds is placed above the figures. Red as well as light and dark blue stripes separate the bands. The upper band is reminiscent of a patolu type discussed by Robert Holmgren and Anita Spertus. The patolu’s linked diamonds fill the entire central field, while here only a single pattern width is used. It is interesting that this particular patolu type also has a continuous vine that is very much like the one that appears in this textile. In light of this possible link to a patolu or similar Indian trade textiles, the filler elements that crowd the figural band may simply be related to the numerous small designs placed in between large animal figures, as on the “elephant” patola made in Gujarat for the Indonesian market. All known elephant patola, though, are likely to be of a much later date. If a connection to an Indian trade textile is acceptable for the ikat fragment, this cloth may be the earliest known example of a local response to a South Asian prototype.


Cotton, dyes, probably indigo and morinda Warp-faced plain weave, warp ikat 67 1⁄4 × 33 1⁄2 inches, (171 × 85 cm)


A few remarkable warp ikat textiles have come to light in the Poso region of Central Sulawesi. This is one of them. They all are characterized by extremely fine cotton threads, resulting in a very high thread count per centimeter. The ikat work is of exceptional quality and includes both red and dark blue, with some overdyeing of both colors. We know from ethnographic accounts that these technical characteristics are now highly valued and give a textile prestige; it is not likely that this was different in the past. The skirt has three panels woven with a continuous warp, sewn together along the selvage. It is common to use a continuous warp on a backstrap loom, which means that the weaver creates a tubular cloth. When the weaving comes close to where it started, the shed and heddle devices make it impossible to continue inserting the weft. The textile is taken off the loom and is usually cut and sewn into the tube shape. Here, however, the circular shape of the panel has been completed by manually inserting the weft. A very similar textile now in the National Museum in Jakarta has the same feature. As far as I am aware, this laborious way of completing a circular cloth is no longer done anywhere in Indonesia. However, in some societies the continuous warp is given considerable cultural significance. The geringsing cloth from Tenganan, Bali, retains the circular shape if it is to be used for ceremonial purposes, and the bridewealth textiles of southern Lembata also have to show the uncut open warp threads, as these are said to represent the continuity of life brought into the lineage by the young bride. Of course it is impossible to attribute such significance to the continuous warp in this textile, as we have no context for its original use and meaning. Nevertheless, it is of interest to include these current ethnographic comparisons. The size of the textile, with the complete circular warp measuring twice 42 1⁄2 inches (108 centimeters) and the full height almost 6 1⁄2 feet (2 meters), make it unlikely that it was intended to be worn. The bands of ikat patterns and their overall arrangements are familiar from nineteenth- and twentieth-century weaving regions elsewhere in eastern Indonesia, especially Flores, Solor, and Lembata, but also from southern Maluku. The ikat work on the woman’s skirt from Ili Api, Lembata, cannot compare with the superb quality of this piece, but there is a resemblance in the use of geometric patterns and the band arrangement. The connection to recently made textiles, though, is only generic, and no claim for any direct links are made here. At most there is a common ancestry. It is nevertheless interesting to note that the number of ikat bands in the Poso skirt is uneven, as is the case in the Ili Api cloth made in the twentieth century. The textile has been radiocarbon-dated, and with 83.3 percent probability its calibrated date is between 1419 and 1520. A later date range is from 1569 to 1627 (16.7 percent). For that reason we cannot say with absolute certainty that the textile was made in the fifteenth century, though the earlier date is more likely.

woman’s tubular skirt Poso Toraja region, Sulawesi late Fifteenth to early Sixteenth Century Cotton, dyes, probably indigo and morinda Warp-faced plain weave, warp ikat, circular warp; tubular, three panels 76 1⁄2 × 44 inches, (194 × 112 cm)


man’s ceremonial dress cloth or ritual hanging, ma(w)a or mbesa Palu River area, West Central Sulawesi Kulawi or Gimpu Group Radiocarbon-dated 1484–1663

This textile was recovered on the upper reaches of the Palu River, the habitat of several stratified Kulawi/Gimpu groups. Though the cloth must have been kept in an heirloom basket (bungge) for more than three centuries, it is in remarkably good condition. Even if small sections seem to have fallen victim to cockroaches, the dimensions are complete. Half-visible motifs near the borders indicate that the motifs were conceived as “continuing” in all four directions. The rhythmically lined-up rows of stylized ancestral beings and buffaloes in both warp and weft directions retain elements of pre-Indic banded design styles. The subject matter fits closely within the Toraja cultural universe. Comparable rows of buffaloes spread their horns on a more recent, indigenous ma(w)a. An abstracted version of four ancestor figures fused through the heads can be recognized also in a large ikat funeral cloth from Rongkong. Since early times Toraja men obtained plain cotton cloth as barter for forest products from foreign traders on the coast. The application of the decoration was a ritual task for women.The technique used on this seventeenth-century cotton cloth appears remarkably similar to the late-nineteenth-century method for decorating bark cloth (fuya), the common Toraja clothing material. The thin black lines inside the motifs apparently are the remnants of the initial tracing with soot obtained from burnt resinous damar (tree wax), a local forest product that was also used as the resist. While many of the Indian trade cloths encountered in Sulawesi are red, the majority of published indigenous ma(w)a are mud-dyed brownish black. The only example of a partially red cloth is an indigenous ma(w)a mentioned by Hetty Nooy-Palm. Among the range of dye materials used on fuya, three sources for dyeing red are known. The deep red on this cloth may be the result of a Morinda species locally referred to as dolo, in combination with a mordant of sirih or betel nut and lime. The squarish dots in white, red, and blue-black natural indigo that make up the faces, limbs, and organs within the motifs are a remarkable technical achievement. These dotted motifs and also the darker red dots that cover the background present a mystery, as the techniques seem surprisingly reminiscent of patterns worked with special tools known only from Java: the square canting nitik and the pinpricked coblosan dots from the traditional North Coast style.


Hand-spun cotton, hand-loomed base cloth imported from India or Java Batik-like resist technique, naturally dyed 23 1⁄2 × 77 3⁄4 inches, (60 × 197 cm)


The large black middle section with narrow, often brown stripes is characteristic for this type of antique sarong. Top and bottom borders have broad ikat bands, while the ends are plain black or brown. This sarong is an old (mnanat, Fordata language) and most valuable family heirloom, to be worn on ritual occasions. Three-color ikat borders are not common in the Tanimbar Islands, and such cloths were reserved for people of high rank. The width of the plaincolor borders may also indicate local status. A border of 5 7⁄8 inches (15 centimeters) defines a sarong of value. In some villages the wider the plain border, the higher one’s rank; here the approximately 6 1⁄2-inch (16.5-centimeters)-wide border suggests a high status association. For the Tanimbar Islands this cloth is remarkable, because the ikat ornaments in the broad bands are not composed by means of the typical Tanimbarese dot-and-dash method. The motifs are unique integral figures. They are mainly defined by the undyed cotton against a dark blue ground. Additional accents in red are applied with a brush using a vegetable dyestuff from tree bark. Cloths with these types of motifs could be Tanimbar copies of Timorese sarongs. Old pusaka pieces were decorated in this way. Today a sarong like this is a desirable part of the gift exchanges at marriage. A similar cloth, but with three panels, is depicted in Marianne van Vuuren. Apart from their use as ritual dress and as wedding gifts, sarongs are believed to have healing properties. Ill persons can be “cooled” by laying the cloths on the sick parts of the body. Sarongs have also been used in rituals as a place for female ancestors especially to descend upon in order to communicate with the living. TVD

TUBULAR GARMENT, BAKAN MNANAT (FORDATA), TAIS MATIN ( YAMDENA), TAIS NTU (SELARU) Tanimbar Islands, East Maluku Tenggara Late Nineteenth Century Cotton, Warp ikat, 23 1⁄2 × 47 inches, (60 × 119 cm) tubular, two panels


While the distribution of styles of women’s skirts and men’s hip or shoulder wraps in West Timor is fairly well understood, much less work has been done with the accessories that were once a part of a warrior’s ceremonial dress, such as belts, betel bags, and headcloths. The cultural importance of these items was considerable, as in former times leadership in war was a primary measure of masculine achievement, and only a recognized leader would have worn such accessories. These items were in use in both Tetun and Atoin Meto regions and may have been widely traded. Weavers in many areas were familiar with the special techniques that appear in these items, especially various forms of weft wrapping. Unless the specific history of one of these accessory pieces is known (and it almost never is in museum collections), it is very hard to attribute it to a specific location. The problem is compounded in the case of this extraordinary belt, which has been radiocarbon-dated 1480–1560. When dealing with eastern Indonesian cloths more than a hundred years old, it is often impossible to exactly place them based on today’s styles; they simply do not match known types closely enough. The colors of this belt are characteristic of the Atoin Meto aesthetic, and the techniques reflect ones that are still used today in Timor. But for now we can only say that it appears to be the oldest known Timorese textile and that, judging from more recent practices, it may have been part of a warrior’s ceremonial attire. The belt has been cut at one end and was originally longer. The supple-mentary weft wrapping is identical to one of the several types of wrapping still used today. The yellow, green, and pale blue yarns are silk, while the dark blue and red are cotton. This, too, is quite compatible with a Timorese origin for the cloth—silk yarns in a variety of colors were imported from China as part of the Timor sandalwood trade, while weavers continued to dye their own cotton with indigo and morinda In the detail photograph below, made with a microscope, the white portion at the bottom shows the warp-faced plain weave ground, with each warp end acting individually. In all other areas, the warps are grouped together in bundles (these are visible in places where the weft has worn away). The pink and yellow horizontal stripes are twined. Note that every two rows of twining are offset from the previous two—this indicates that the weaver regrouped the bundles of warp yarns, a feature that is still seen in some forms of Timorese weft wrapping today. The heavy supplementary weft wrapping that creates the larger motifs is visible at the top in blue, white, and pink. Here the weaver has not regrouped the warp bundles, allowing her to build up long vertical lines of color.

belt or sash Probably Timor Radiocarbon-dated 1480–1560


Cotton, silk,Warp-faced plain weave, discontinuous supplementary weft wrapping, twining 10 ft. 1⁄2 inches × 2 3⁄4 inches, (306 × 7 cm)


Mary Hunt Kahlenberg 1940 – 2011

graduate study

The Art Institute of Chicago Master School of Craft, Berlin Berlin Academy of Fine Arts Austrian Academy of Applied Arts, Vienna undergraduate study

B.A. Degree – Art History Boston University, Boston, MA Scandinavian Seminar, Denmark Simmons College, Boston PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

1978 – 2011 President, Textile Arts Inc., Santa Fe 1996 – 2011 Curator, Lloyd Cotsen Textile Traces Collection 1992 – 2011 Research Associate, Museum of New Mexico, Museum of International Folk Art 1984 – 1996 Curator, Neutrogena Corporation Art Collection 1985 Lecturer, University of Alberta, Canada 1982 Consultant, Mobil Oil for Indonesian and Navajo Textile Collections 1981 Consultant, First Boston Corporation for International Textile Collection 1980 Consultant, Atlantic Richfield for Indonesian Textile Collection 1978 – 1980 Consultant for Witte Museum, San Antonio 1968 – 1978 Curator and Department Head, Los Angeles County Museum of Art – Head of Textile and Costume Department Lecturer, California State University at Fullerton Lecturer, University of California, Los Angeles 1974 – 1978 Consultant, Skirball Museum, Los Angeles 1967 – 1968 Assistant Curator, Textile Museum, Washington, D.C. 1966 – 1967 Conservator, Textile Conservation Centre, London 1966 Instructor, Croyden Art School, England 1965 Instructor, Textile Design, University of Tennessee MAJOR EXHIBITIONS 1969 The Smart Set Fashions from 1910–1930; from Lacma Collection 1970 Japanese Textiles of The Edo Period

1970 tion 1971 1972 1973 1973 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977

From Lacma Collection Patterns in Fashions Patterns and construction techniques over the past 200 years, Lacma CollecHuene and the Fashionable Image Retrospective exhibition of Hoynigen Huene’s fashion photography with related costumes from the Lacma Collection Tapestry, Tradition and Technique Survey of textiles woven in tapestry techniques through various cultures and periods; from Lacma Collection Eighteenth Century English and French Costumes for the Huntington Galleries, Pasadena, California; Lacma Collection Ornamental Costumes from the John Wise Collection of Peruvian Textiles Body Shells and Shadows Body sculpture of Heidi Bucher and Carl Lander The Navajo Blanket Major Los Angeles County Museum of Art exhibition circulated to museums throughout the country and Europe, 1972–1976 Anatomy in Fabric Contemporary California fiber artists L.A. Flash Audio-Visual presentation revealing the varied local attitudes towards dress. Circulated to the Museum of Contempo- rary Crafts, New York, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, University of Kansas Museum of Art, and the Fashion Group in Chicago If the Crinoline Comes Back A proposed correlation between dress and architectural shapes The Tapestries of Helena Hernmarck Fabric and Fashion Gifts of the Lacma Costume Council, celebrating the its 20th anniversary The Grand Tour Major review of the Lacma Textile and Costume Department’s holdings Grass An exhibition of art, architecture and crafts traveling to the Museum of Contemporary Crafts, New York; Rice University Houston; and the Renwick Gallery, Washington, D.C. Contemporary Tapestries Security Pacific National Bank


1978 Space Printing Printed textiles expressing ideas concern- ing the measurement of time and space; Security Pacific National Bank Textile Traditions of Indonesia Major exhibition of Indonesian Textiles from the Lacma Collection 1979 Rites of Passage Indonesian textiles from the collection of Mary Hunt Kahlenberg, Mingei Museum, San Diego and traveled to ten museums throughout U.S. and Canada through 1981 Art for Weaving Contemporary clothing as an art form, for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art 1980 Textiles of the Indonesian Archipelago Annenberg Gallery, San Francisco 1980 Blue and White Japanese Folk Textiles, Pacific Culture Museum, Pasadena 1981 Traditional Textiles of Sumatra Arco Center For Visual Art, Los Angeles 1982 Indigo Blues Japanese Folk Textiles from the Collection of Mary Hunt Kahlenberg: Chevron Gallery, San Francisco and Transamerica Gallery, Los Angeles 1990 Indonesian Art University of Kentucky Art Museum 1991 Mother Earth Father Sky Major exhibition of Pueblo and Navajo art inTokyo and Osaka 1992 – 1993 Matisse’s Secret Exhibition of Kuba textiles at Nogizaka Art Hall, Tokyo; Oklahoma City Art Museum; University of Kentucky Art Museum; African American Cultural Center, Dallas 1992 Talkative Textiles Textiles with text at the Transamerica Gallery, San Francisco 1998 The Extraordinary in the Ordinary Textiles and objects from the Collections of Lloyd E. Cotsen and Neutrogena, Museum of International Folk Art, Santa Fe MAJOR PUBLICATIONS

1977 1987

Walk In Beauty, The Navajo and Their Blankets, published by New York Graphic Society, co-authored with Anthony Berlant Textile Traditions of Indonesia, Lacma Rites of Passage, Mingei Museum Grass: Its Beauty and Use, published by E.P. Dutton Auspicious Beginnings, Textiles with Bird

Imagery, Textile Arts Gallery, Santa Fe 1991 Walk In Beauty, The Navajo and Their Blankets, revised edition published by Gibbs Smith, co-authored with Anthony Berlant 1992 Matisse’s Secret, Nogizaka Art Hall,Tokyo The Extraordinary in the Ordinary: From the Collections of Lloyd Cotsen and the Neutrogena Corporation,The Museum of International Folk Art, Santa Fe and Abrams (Editor and Writer) Japanese Bamboo Baskets: Masterworks of Form and Texture, from the Lloyd E. Cotsen Collection, Cotsen Occasional Press (Producer) Asian Costumes and Textiles, from the Bosphorus to Fujiyama, published by Skira 2010 Five Centuries of Indonesian Textiles, Delmonico Books / Prestel; Winner, 2011 George Wittenborn Memorial Book Award and 2010 Shep Ethnic Textiles Book Award CATALOGUES

1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1976 1977 1978 1979 1981 1985 1985 1992 2004

The Navajo Blanket, with Anthony Berlant, catalogue for 1972 exhibition, Lacma Body Shells and Shadows, with Jan Kowalek and Doris Shabolt, Lacma “The Art of Islamic Textiles” in Islamic Art, Edited by Dr. P. Pal, Lacma Fabric and Fashion, handbook for museum exhibit including the history of the Textile and Costume Department Collection A Decade of Collecting, Lacma Grass, Lacma Navajo Blankets, Museum Bellerive, Zurich Contemporary Tapestries, Security Pacific National Bank, Los Angeles Space Printing, Security Pacific National Bank, Los Angeles Textile Traditions of Indonesia, catalogue in coordination with exhibition Art for Weaving, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Traditional Textiles of Sumatra, Arco Center for the Visual Arts, Los Angeles Textiles and Fiber Arts, chapter in the cata logue for the Security Pacific Collection, 1970 – 1985 Selected Works, Los Angeles “Navajo Blankets,” chapter in World Rugs and Carpets, co-authored with Anthony Berlant Talkative Textiles, catalog of exhibition, Transamerica, San Francisco Indonesian Textiles, co-authored with Richard Tuttle

EXHIBITION BROCHURES

In coordination with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art 1969 The Smart Set


1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975

Japanese Textiles of the Edo Period Patterns in Fashion Ornamental Costumes from the John Wise Collection of Ancient Peruvian Textiles Tapestry: Tradition and Technique Ten Designers of the 20th Century, co-authored with Maggie Murray Anatomy in Fabric If The Crinoline Comes Back Tapestries of Helena Hernmarck The Grand Tour

JOURNAL AND MAGAZINE ARTICLES

1970 1972 1973 1974 1974 1975 1976 1977 1979 1980 1981 1984 1986 1989 1995 1995 1996 1998 2003

A Study of the Development and Use of Mughal Patka (Sash), with reference to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art Collection in aspects of Indian Art, edited by Dr. P. Pal, published by E.J. Brill, Leiden, Holland “Blanket Statements,” Art News, Summer “The Navajo Blanket,” Art In America, Summer “The Navajo Blanket,” Crafts Horizon, June “An Indian Floral Velvet,” Los Angeles County Museum of Art Bulletin “Mughal Personage Velvet,” The Burlington Magazine, Vol. Cxv “Contemporary Tapestries,” Architectural Digest, September “Islamic Textiles,” Apollo, August “A Mughal Personage Velvet,” The Memorial Volume of the Sixth International Congress of Iranian Art and Archeology “Walk In Beauty, The Navajo and Their Blankets,” Indian Arts, Winter Exhibition Reviews, Hali Exhibition And Book Reviews, Hali Floral Batiks of Java, publication of papers of Irene Emery Roundtable Conference on Indonesia “The Classic Navajo Blanket,” Hali “Classic Navajo Blankets,” Oriental Rug Review, Vol. Iv, No. 10 “Collecting Considerations,” Textile Conservation Symposium in honor of Pat Reeves, Lacma “Shared Horizons –Blankets from the American Southwest,” Hali, Issue 43 “Ted Hallman,” Fiber Arts, April “Hacienda Style,” Hali, Issue 82, August “Collector’s Touch,” Hali, Issue 86, May “A Collector’s Pleasure,” El Palacio, Vol. 103, No.1 “The Possessions of the Ancestors,”

Hali, Issue 131

board memberships

Center for Contemporary Arts, Santa Fe, Board Chair, 1994 – 1995 Costume Society of America, Founding Board Western Regional Conference of American Association of Museums, California Representative California Creative Awards consultations

1973 1975 1979 - 1980 1980 1982 1983 1984 1993

Conference Organizer for The Costume Society of America Planning Committee, Irene Emery Roundtable Conference of Historic Textiles Witte Museum, San Antonio,Texas Evaluation of Textile And Costume Collections, Advisor on Future Planning Advisor to Atlantic Richfield for Indonesian Textile Collection Advisor to First Boston Corporation for International Textile Collection Advisor to Mobil Oil for Indonesian Textile and Navajo Blanket Collections Advisor to Tosco Corporation on Textile Collecting Caring For and Collecting Textiles Seminar with Sharon Shore Advisor to Recursos de Santa Fe

organization memberships

American Association of Museums Art Table California Design Centre International D’etude des Textiles Anciens (C.I.E.T.A.) Costume Council of Los Angeles County Museum of Art Fashion Circle West Fashion Group Textile Society of America who’s who listings

Who’s Who of American Women Contemporary Authors Who’s Who in American Art The World Who’s Who of Women Personalities of America Copyright 2014, Robert T. Co√and


THE 349 INDONESIAN TEXTILES IN THE MARY HUNT KAHLENBERG COLLECTION COVER THE SPAN OF INDONESIA FROM ACEH TO IRIAN JAYA, AND THROUGH THE MOLUCCAS.

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Mhk 5 centuries  

Mary Hunt Khalenberg Collection of Indonesian Textiles

Mhk 5 centuries  

Mary Hunt Khalenberg Collection of Indonesian Textiles

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