Southeast Asia possesses one of the world’s most dazzling textile
traditions that spans over 4,000 years. One of the most prolific areas for
textile production is Sumatra, the largest island of Indonesia. It had been
the commercial nexus on the trade route that first brought the Chinese, Arabs
and Indians together and was later influenced by Portuguese and Dutch traders.
The luxury trade in silks, cottons, yarns, beads, mirrored metal and rich dyes
inspired a remarkable variety of textiles on the island, which in turn reflected
and influenced the textile arts throughout the region.
Design motifs include sumptuous silk sarongs and shoulder wraps in vibrant colors woven with gold and silver yarns; the famous “ship cloths” woven in geometric forms that are remarkable historic documents of social status and ceremonial gift exchange; exquisitely embroidered cylindrical skirts embellished by couching, appliqué, mirrors and sequins; and ornate tie-dyed rainbow shawls of silk.
This exhibition is organized by Phoenix Art Museum.
Left: Shawl (slendang), Indonesia, Sumatra, Palembang region 20th century, Tie-dye (tritik), “rainbow colored” (plangi), Silk with metallic thread. Loan from Dr. Thomas J. Hudak. Right: Ceremonial “Ship” Cloth (tatibin), Indonesia, Sumatra, south coastal region 20th century Supplementary weft, Cotton, Loan from Dr. Thomas J. Hudak.