Transnational Ikat:
An Asian Textile on the Move

Curator: Professor Susan Rodgers, Sociology and Anthropology
Student docents: Tricia Giglio, '14; Martha Walters, '14; Hana Carey, '13
Photo by Matthew Atanian

On January 24 – March 1, 2013, Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Art Gallery exhibitiofn of ikat cloths from Indonesia and Malaysia displays over 40 of these remarkable textiles, both in their deeply ceremonial forms and in their vibrantly commercialized versions.

Ikat is a ‘textile on the move’ today: moving across borders from Southeast Asia to different parts of the world, moving from ritual use to American fashion wear and other marketplace forms, moving from Asian villages to international museum and art collecting circuits.  The exhibition focuses on ikats from eastern Indonesia, Sumatra, Sulawesi, and Malaysia’s Sarawak state. 

Curator Susan Rodgers (anthropology, Holy Cross) and three Holy Cross student docents (Hana Carey, Tricia Giglio, Martha Walters) did fieldwork in summer 2012 to explore the exhibition’s “transnational ikat” themes in Bali, Indonesia and Kuching, Sarawak; their research was supported by the Andrew W. Mellon program at Holy Cross.  This website (authored by all four researchers) reports their findings about this rapidly, exuberantly commercializing Asian cloth.  The website also provides introductory background information about ikat.