Ceremonial cloth (maa’) - ROM2018_16633_1


Ceremonial cloth (maa’)

Maker: Toraja culture
Medium:Chintz: cotton tabby, block-printed mordants
Geography: Made in western India for the eastern Indonesian market; used by the Toraja people of Sulawesi
Date: 1300-1433
581 × 89.5 cm
Object number: 2016.43.2
Credit Line: This acquisition was made possible with the generous support of the Louise Hawley Stone Charitable Trust.
On view
Gallery Location:The Patricia Harris Gallery of Textiles & Costume

Indian chintz made for eastern Indonesia often includes strong elements of red, a colour associated in many cultures with fertility and power. On Sulawesi island, communities used chintz to transfer ancestral blessings at large ceremonies, by draping houses, elders and offerings with the cloth. Popular designs include sacred geese, luxurious foliage, female entertainers, and patterns from precious Indian silk textiles (patola). Interestingly, some of the same motifs appear on cloth exported to Egypt, showing artistic and commercial linkages across the Indian Ocean.

The earliest Indian textiles found in Indonesia were discovered among the Toraja of southern central Sulawesi, where radiocarbon analysis attests for the survival of textiles that are as old as the late thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. A quite distinct cloth is resist-printed and always dyed red, with a large central field showing small hamsa geese circling around an open lotus blossom. The geese alternate with lotus buds.

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