Indonesia, West Timor, Amanatun Utara, Ayotupas area, 3rd quarter of 20th century
Handspun cotton base, natural indigo, commercial cotton and dyes, discontinuous supplementary weft wrapping (buna), alternating warp-faced float weave (sotis)
Description: A showpiece textile made from 4 panels, carrying in the outer 2 panels an extraordinary graphic design of red / white buna anthropomorphs, whose strong lines stand out in a riot of dense colors. Set in a field of multicoloured square diamonds, the figures have more delicate, interesting head-like extensions, and are filled out by rectangles with internal diamonds in contrastive colors, that also run in columns that mark off each design block. A remarkably sparkling effect is created by the use of many colours and the variations on the diamond form. Particularly interesting is the way the red / white reverse from one design block to the next, creating a photo negative effect.
The inner 2 panels have a red / black striped central section, followed by a striped section of plain pinstripes and simple red / yellow sotis figures that contrast nicely with a narrow band of buna rectangles. Thus the skirt displays the weaver's mastery of 2 different weaving techniques, and their complementary effects.
The main figure with outspread legs adapts old motifs with spindly, stepped legs found on 19th C skirts from Belu, especially Malaka (adjacent to Ayotupas). It has a stronger, more dramatic effect than the typical water-bugs illustrated on most Ayotupas skirts. This is the only instance of this bold, graphic style of expressing the old anthropomorphic figure that I have come across.
Condition: Excellent, with no stains, holes or tears. The skirt has an extraordinarily fresh appearance, and seems to have been kept carefully as a special piece and rarely used. The natural indigo base is a rich deep color, and has a nubbly, closely woven texture. The supplementary colors are all vivid and clear.
Length 141 cm. Width 53 cm (unopened)