Textiles in the Exhibition<Previous Next>

Single panel man’s head wrapper, Kain limar
Palembang Malay people, Palembang, South Sumatra, Indonesia
Circa 1900
Silk and gold-wrapped thread
Ikat with bands of delicate songket along four sides; songket stars
Anne and John Summerfield Textile Study Collection
Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Art Gallery, College of the Holy Cross
2005.04.07

man's head wrapper, Kain limar
man's head wrapper, Kain limar close up
Detail

This ceremonial head wrapping for a wealthy nobleman of Palembang shows that ikat sometimes combines with quite different cloth-making techniques: in this case, luxurious and high-status songket work.  In songket, supplementary wefts of metal-wrapped thread are added in horizontally across the cloth as the textile is built up on the loom.  Bamboo pattern sticks are used to form a small shed of space into which the supplementary wefts may be inserted by the weaver. The gold-wrapped threads go over and under just a few warps in fine kain limar like this one, forming delicate, intricate designs.  The weaver was quite expert.  In Sumatra, songket is generally associated with Muslim, mercantile old trade states.  This head tie could have been used in a grand occasional such as the installation of a new sultan. The silk ikat work in this textile is especially fine.  Blossoms and stars are favorites in Palembang textiles of many types.