Head cloth, ikat textile, headcloth
Iban people, Sarawak, probably First District near Kuching
Handspun cotton and mercerized cotton (yellow and red bands along the sides)
Warp ikat overall with sungkit band in middle (a kind of supplemental weft wrapping technique). Twined fringe.
Gift of Anne and John Summerfield
Anne and John Summerfield Textile Study Collection
Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Art Gallery, College of the Holy Cross
A man’s ceremonial headcloth from Sarawak. This is a most unusual Iban textile for the weaver has combined more standard warp ikat for the top and bottom of the cloth with broad bands of supplementary weft sungkit work across the middle of the cloth. This probably shows trade cloth influence from the sea coast; the Kuching area has long been a cosmopolitan one tied to Sumatra, the Malay peninsula, and Sulawesi. In the middle of the textile, the narrow tumpal motifs (elongated triangles) also ally this cloth with broader-scale, archipelago-wide ikatting and songket traditions.
This is a border-crossing ikat cloth par excellence, given its mixed design history. The headcloth was probably a marker of wealth and high status; its sea trade connections to the wider Malay Muslim world may have added extra luster.