Fine old Iban Bidang circa 1920 with intriguing “water strider” motif, there are a few deer (rusa) and a spirit figure in this pattern as well. Collected in Sarawak in 2006. Aside from some fine yellow lines bordering the side panels this is made from all natural dyes and handspun cotton. There is a moderate hole and minor tear noted in enlargements. Dimensions L: 101cm/39.8in and W: 44cm/17.2in. It should be noted that Iban weavings are one of the few well documented textile groups in Southeast Asia, and all the symbols in them have a strong connection between the spiritual and the natural world, with the designs revealed to weavers via dreams. Iban weaving work was done in the past exclusively by women and is viewed as a sacred act, as was the men’s tradition of head hunting. In fact sometimes the weaving of an important piece was called the women’s warpath. I traveled in Sarawak 20 years going inland by bus and boat and it was still common to see lean tattooed men in loin clothes getting on the river taxis carrying blowpipes with women with long pierced and pendulous earlobes or to visit the then recently forced settlements of the nomadic Penan people where the women went bare breasted. On my last trip there this has all disappeared in a very short span. The majority of the native peoples have been evangelized, although the Penan are still fighting a losing battle to maintain their unique way of life. Now the rivers are silting up due to over logging and the forests are giving way to grow palm oil to supply the latest “bio fuel” fad. For a scholarly discourse on Iban culture and weavings Iban Ritual Textiles by Traude Gavin is excellent or a more of a “field guide” approach to the subject Pua: Iban Weavings of Sarawak by Edric Ong would both make good reading.