Careful looking reveals a series of arrowlike human figures with angled limbs as the basis for the geometric design of this textile. The figures have been identified as "palawa," or heroes, in the Mamasa area, where this textile was collected; however, the ethnographer Carl Schuster interpreted them as ancestors, gathered together on the burial shroud to accompany the deceased into the next world.
The bold design and color of this textile are characteristic of those produced by the Toraja people of the Galumpang area of Sulawesi. At one time, it was important for Toraja people to be prepared for eventual death by owning a shroud such as this. Imagine the comfort of entering the afterlife wrapped within the community of one's ancestors.