Spottiswoode Gallery

Timor Leste | Vintage festive tubeskirt (‘red mouth cloth')

Timor Leste | Vintage festive tubeskirt (‘red mouth cloth')

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Directory: Vintage Arts: Regional Art: Asian: Southeast Asian: Textiles: Pre 1980: Item # 1432395
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Lau o’o mimireke

Timor Leste, Baucau or West Lautem, 1970s

Warp ikat, supplementary warp weave, discontinuous supplementary weft

A festive red tubeskirt (lau o’o mimireke) woven in the Baucau or West Lautem municipality, constructed by stitching two panels together. The wide body of multicoloured stripes is followed at each end by a design band of orange and dark brown ikat, and a solid plum band decorated with two large flowers woven in supplementary techniques. The large, striking pairs of flowers at each end are arranged one above the other in a badge-like grouping with secondary motifs. Their asymmetrical colours, designs and multiple techniques are distinctive: the yellow flowers worked in supplementary warp weave are flanked by four weft wrapped octagons containing multicoloured diamonds; the turquoise flowers are framed by yellow floral motifs and borders with a hook motif. The soft diagonal lines of the orange ikat band balance dynamically with the bold supplementary motifs in vertical alignment. The foundation of the bold design at the ends is the rich, rhythmic grading and contrasting of colours in the striped body—green, yellow, mauve, red, pale pink, white, blue, purple, turquoise, and orange. The stripes are enlivened by narrow lines of dot ikat and broken meander ikat between turquoise lines.

Context: At the areas where Baucau and west Lautem meet, a fusion of Makasae and Fataluku styles has arisen, with Makasae structures but Fatuluku patterns and names. This piece is similar to a tubeskirt from Maina II in Lautem illustrated in Rosália E M Soares, Textiles of Lautem, 39, Fig. 11; also to TA0070 in the Timor Aid collection ( In festive and ceremonial occasions in Lautem, the lau o’o mimireke (‘red mouth cloth’) is worn as an outer garment over its correlative black version. The European-style flowers are old traditional motifs assimilated from Portuguese design since the 17th century. The grouping of supplementary motifs in an isolated arrangement is distinctive in Timor Leste tubeskirt design, as is the asymmetry between the two ends of the textile.

The tubeskirt is in perfect condition, and appears hardly used, with no holes, stains, or tears. The colours are very fresh and vibrant throughout. The cotton is medium weight, with a firm body and a sandy texture that makes a nice contrast to the sheen of the supplementary weft threads.

Length: 118 cm; Width: 58 cm (unopened).