Cloth of the Archipelago

Museum Nasional Indonesia

Legend tells of a goddess who brought cotton to Indonesia, turning herself into a loom so that people could weave.

Indonesia has a rich textile heritage and the Museum's collection is an excellent reflection of this. Garments were traditionally made out of many materials such as fruits, plant fibres and tree bark.

However, it is batik and ikat cloth that have caught the attention of connoisseurs and collectors.

Batik is made by hand drawing or stamping a pattern onto white cotton or silk with hot wax, which resists dye.

An ikat requires the threads to be dyed before weaving. The warp (lengthwise threads), weft (crosswise threads), or both sets of threads may be dyed.

In some parts of the archipelago, traditional dyes are still made from roots, bark, berries and leaves, although commercial dyes are becoming increasingly popular.

Once finished, garments are further ornamented with embroidery, beads, shells, coins or mirrors. Traditional textiles are an important aspect of Indonesian culture.

Their motifs or colours indicate the rank and status of their owner. Over the centuries, they have also been an essential part of many rituals ceremonies from war dances to weddings and burials.

It is interesting to note that traditional textiles are essentially women's territory.

Credits: Story

by Ferlian Putra

text from the Guide Book of Museum Nasional Indonesia

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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