Pua kombu ikat textile, ceremonial hanging
Iban people, Sarawak, Second Division
Handspun cotton, warp ikat.
Second half of 19th century
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
This very large pua kombu ceremonial hanging is lively with creatures and spirit figures in its busy center field. Some motifs may possibly relate to the trophy head pattern. The borders show a spiral imagery, which is sometimes linked to tiger imagery. There may also be a winged creature at issue here. Like many pua kombu this cloth incorporated images from the tropical forest and the unseen world of spirits, linked to rites of passage in Iban longhouses.
The ikat was made in two panels, on back strap looms. Today, Iban weaving is done in villages but also in urban scenes such as the weaving studio at the Tun Jugah Foundation, and in touristic venues, such as in mock-longhouses in the Sarawak Cultural Village.