<Previous Exhibit Listing Next>

Lau or woman’s skirt
East Sumba, Indonesia
Supplementary warp
Handspun cotton and plied cotton threads
Indigo and aniline dyes
Early 20th century.
Anne and John Summerfield Textile Study Collection
Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Art Gallery, College of the Holy Cross

Sumba lau cloth

Not an ikat but a skirt made by another technique: supplementary warp (the weaver used two superimposed sets of warps to make her designs).  Supplementary warp weaving takes a high level of skill and this lau is notably well-executed.  The motifs show pairs of large lizards facing ceremonial trees. A ‘traditional motif’?  In a typical Indonesian way: the weaver has taken her idea from the lions rampant image on old Dutch coins. She has thus domesticated European heraldry.  She has also daubed on yellow dye to the completed cloth, to make the gold-toned designs.  This color is not woven in here.

Sumba cloths are used extensively in marriage alliance gift-giving, paired with gold ornaments which often course among families in the opposite direction from the cloth gifts.  Hinggi-style ikats from East Sumba, shown in the Threads of Life section of the exhibition, are the more familiar sort of ikat from this prodigiously creative island.