Hinggi cloak (mantel, probably for a man)
East Sumba, Indonesia
Handspun cotton, natural dyes, including deep indigo
Warp ikat, woven circa 2010-2012.
Purchased at Threads of Life NGO, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
Anne and John Summerfield Textile Study Collection
Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Art Gallery, College of the Holy Cross
This East Sumbanese hinggi has a particularly intense center field totally filled with tree motifs and horses or deer marching across the top and bottom of the large cloth, in paired rows. No selvedge bands. Tightly made twined edging and well-finished fringes. This textile was made for the international collectors’ market and for upscale heritage tourists and was probably intended to be used as a throw for a piece of furniture or as a wall hanging. The weaver woman is a long-time associate of Threads of Life staff in Bali. Weavers today in East Sumba have considerable freedom to mix and match motif elements for “trade textiles” of this sort. Indeed, hinggi that are full of lively prancing animals and mysterious spirit figures or frightening skull trees (once used to display enemy heads from warfare) have sold well to international buyers since at least the 1920s and 1930s, when the Dutch used them as home decorations in late colonial times. As anthropologist Jill Forshee points out in Between the Folds: Stories of Cloth, Lives, and Travels from Sumba (2001, University of Hawai’i Press), East Sumbanese women brokers of ikat cloth are savvy manipulators of aspects of this border-crossing trade. Some market their wares in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, and many travel to Bali to sell and learn new information about buyers’ tastes.