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Ikat from Timor and its outer islands: insular and interwoven

This dissertation investigates ikat from the eastern Indonesian islands from a uniquely technical perspective, including design analysis of asymmetry and microscopy.

H.P.H. ten Hoopen
01 September 2021
The publication in Open Access

Paradoxically, this technical perspective highlights the human factor. We see 19th- and early 20th-century weavers’ decisions in close-up, as if sitting next to them. This yields rich insights in both materiality and creativity. It also allowed the differentiation of 21 weave types and their distribution across 41 regions in the Indonesian archipelago.Asymmetry is widely distributed, yet has largely been ignored.

Ten Hoopen discriminates seven techniques to achieve asymmetry, including visual tricks and illusions. Sumbanese royal weavers made thrilling efforts to hide their virtuosity, using tiny visual devices, secret keys, to reveal that their creations were far more labour-intensive than apparent. Ironically, because they were such great masters at hiding their virtuosity, it remained overlooked by generations of scholars.In his final chapter the author analyses what may have spurred the weavers of the region to create their most time-consuming feats of artistry, and develops a view of these women as more inventive and intelligent than they have been credited with before – and more assertive, using ikat’s prestige to spin their men into a web of taboos and prescriptions.

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