Pua kombu ceremonial hanging
Iban people, Third district, Sarawak
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
Very large pua from the third district of Sarawak: a huge warp ikat ceremonial hanging by an Iban weaver woman who was obviously an expert. She used approximately 38 paired warps per inch, to make a razor sharp ikat with truly inspired artistry. The cotton handspun thread is strong throughout; quality of the weaving is excellent. The dark indigo strips add to the typical red-brown hook designs.
The motifs may be spirit figures or river creatures. The central field is filled with vivid geometric designs and the selvedge bands (there are several) have exceptional ikatting work in them coursing down the textile. The red dye work is strong and rich. Note the rows of motifs at each end of the ikat, giving the cloth a patola-like design.
This pua was made in four panels, since a regular sized back strap loom could not possibly accommodate so large a textile.
Iban weaver women often see themselves as individual, named weavers, with distinctive styles. They are often happy to be named as the creators of specific pua, although this cloth is not so identified.