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Ikat from Sarawak, Borneo, Indonesia

001 Borneo, Sarawak

Pua kumbumicroscope  magnifier

Origin: Borneo, Sarawak
Locale: Iban people, probably from the Baleh river, a tributary of the Batang Rajang.
Period: 1950
Yarn: Cotton, hand spun, coarse
Technique: Warp ikat
Panels: 1
Size: 62 x 260 cm (24.4 x 102.3)
Design: Strikingly asymmetric cloth. It was made with a triple repeat in LR-RL-LR configuration as shown below. This warp folding technique is more commonly used for skirts, kain kebat, than for pua. Male figures, antu, with elaborate feather head-dress, earrings. Figures stand enclosed by rhomboid and triangular shapes representing birds and other animals. The smaller males carry a skull in each hand. The larger figures have pronounced penis inserts, palang. Tumpal end borders, braided ends. Because it is chocolate brown in tone it was probably dyed with enkerbai with chunam, lime, not the usual engkudu (morinda).
Comment: This cloth has been the subject of discussion: is it complete or just one panel of a two-panel pua? According to Kedit this is a moot point: 'This is a good example of those cases where there is no clear canon that governs how or when a cloth can be considered complete. In the Rajang and Lupar and their tributaries panels are often left as they are, without sewing them together or putting on selvedges. This is an old tradition that most likely predates the migration into Sarawak from Kalimantan because old sungkit pieces in the Saribas were also left without selvedges. On the other hand It is also not unusual to unstitch a pua kumbu so as to share it among two lines of descent.'
Background: For additional information see chapter on Borneo and/or Sarawak.
Published: Woven Languages 2014, Carpet Collector 2/2015
Compare: 123 075
Literature: Overall patterning and design of human shapes similar to early 20th C pua in Maxwell and Maxwell, ed. for Indonesian Arts Society, Textiles of Indonesia, Fig. 21, though here with more pronounced genitals and the addition of skulls.

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