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1642 Rare Toraja Ceremonial Cloth with a Row of Female Musicians

Rare Toraja Ceremonial Cloth with a Row of Female Musicians

Large complete panel depicting a procession of 9 women musicians with their musical instrument (most likely the Tanpura), each with a uniquely patterned skirt.

The direction of the feet opposes the direction of the faces .. so the twirling suggests that they are also dancing.

Appears to be partly block-printed and partly hand-colored

This textile is similar to the 'Ceremonial Cloth  and Heirloom Textile with Row of Female Musicians' at the LACMA.

The LACMA textile is stated to be over 3 centuries old but 1642 is estimated to be much much younger.

Wovensouls Asset 1642 has the following unique features stated below:

The similarity of layout with the museum textiles is self-evident

We see a number of women wearing similar outfits and carrying a musical instrument each, all facing one direction.

But major differences also exist.

For example,

1. The faces in 1642 are slim, long and angular and look distinctly different from the round plump faces in the Gujarat textiles. The faces here probably depict the Indonesian face - where this textile is said to originate.

So while the theme is the same as the Gujarat textiles in museums, this textile has been created with a well-developed identity of its own probably within Indonesia

2. The red is deep and strong and my guess is that this is cinnabar.

3. The cloth is very loosely woven – a bit like gauze. Now in some sections the fabric there appears to be  a coat of stiffening agent.This has not been applied uniformly so  sections of the cloth remain bare & exposed - mainly in the white undyed sections.  The weave in these bare section is floppy to handle. Then, looking at the character of the fiber itself, that is  thick, stiff & rigid, linen is a possibility.

 4.The cloth is not double-sided - the drawing is only on the front. In this textile all the musicians are facing the left end of the textile (as we stand facing the textile).

5. Note the skirts worn all have unique designs. This suggests a leisurely creation by the artist in which special attention has been paid to create a variety of motifs.

The details of 1642 are:

Age: The age is unknown but in my opinion this is about 50-70 years old 

Size:  182 x 44 inches / 462 x 112 cm (without the blue backing which adds a couple of inches all around)

Condition: Fading overall. Frayed at edges, parts of borders missing, many holes, tears etc. Yellow staining (mordant maybe?) over a sections of the cloth.

Now mounted on dark blue linen. [Not present in many photos]






This item has spent a lifetime being used for the purpose of its creation with the original artist/user. Signs of this life lived heartily may be present on the piece in the form of stains, thread loss, loose threads, holes, tears, color run and other imperfections. Therefore the condition must be assumed to be “not” perfect. More photos of such imperfections will be provided on request.



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