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Online Exhibition – Tampan Ship Cloths from Sumatra

July 22, 2017 2 min read


The magnetic appeal of Textile Arts, to me, is directly proportional to
– the art
– the craft
– the symbolism
– the cultural story and
– the usage within the lives of the creators.

Textile Arts that have survived the test of preferences of every descendant generation not once but many times over, develop a supreme aesthetic identity. This robust and unique aesthetic is the first hook with which I am reeled in.
But the greater hook lies in the cultural layer of the palimpsest of traditional Asian textiles.

Some communities plant their textile artworks into their lives and include them in various aspects of daily living – ceremonies, celebrations, rituals etc.. The lives lived by the people in the environment of textile artwork leave an imprint that although invisible, is very perceptible. The cultural reasons for its inclusions – traditions, beliefs, lifestyles, rituals and practices are all absorbed into the textile. (Energy -> mass transfusions maybe?!) And it is THIS factor that makes these textiles most appealing to me.

Every piece becomes a magic carpet and with a few books on the culture to launch the journey, I am transported across time and space and am able to peep into the lives lived once upon a time.

Of the few textile groups I have been familiar with, the Tampan Ship cloth group from Sumatra presents the greatest depth of stories as they are living documents of family histories – often noting family trees, hierarchies, status details etc.

In the online exhibition here, I present a few that I have had the honor of knowing.

I hope you will enjoy deciphering the narrative in these pieces as much as I have!


jaina mishra

July 2017




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