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 Post subject: Batak Sibolang
PostPosted: Thu Feb 06, 2014 4:01 pm 

Joined: Sat May 09, 2009 1:01 am
Posts: 248
Location: Japan
Hi all, Although Pamela has a much nicer sibolang which is found in the Vera Tobing Collection of the photogalleries, I thought I would post another one that came my way recently. It is a sibolang si lima tuho as is Pamela's. Lima is 5 in Indonesian and Batak and refers to the 5 horizontal bands of ikat motifs. The sibolang, however, has another, deeper layer of subtle sophistication that perhaps takes us back to the dawn of textile patterning. The humble stripe may have been one of the first patterns to decorate textiles and indeed is still alive and well in modern pinstripe suits and other fashionable fabrics.

When humankind, probably womankind, first learned (or was taught by a goddess of numerous names) to weave, it must have been a simple step to the invention of the stripe. As other dyeing, weaving and decorating techniques developed and were incorporated into the repertoire the primordial stripe held its ground, bordering, binding, controlling and defining the territory relinquished to these new fancy interlopers. So it is with the sibolang. When the ikat dyeing technique came along it had to coexist with the humble stripe which was a founding pattern in the world of textile decoration.

The variegated background of the sibolang, which appears as a mottled light blue from a distance, is actually the subtle coexistence of the stripe and the ikat motif. The ikat patterns are white, or light blue if the threads are dipped in indigo once before the patterns are bound, on a dark indigo dyed thread. When the loom is warped a plain white or light blue thread (stripe) is alternated between passes of ikat carrying threads. In my sibolang the ratio seems to be 2/2. This means that the warping process was long, tedious and required extreme concentration as two threads of ikat were warped, and I guess tied, then followed by two threads of plain stripe then two of ikat again and so on across the whole central portion of the cloth having ikat motifs with the variegated background.

As the plain white or light blue stripes are the same color as the ikat patterns, they disguise themselves as part of the ikat motifs as they pass through them, subtly doubling their width, and reappear as stripes as they exit the ikat motifs. Now you see them, now you don't. Such clever little stripes. This all takes place at a microscopic two thread width that is hardly noticed from a few feet away and blurs into a light blue background from a couple of meters. Thus the humble stripe retains its position of primacy and even masquerades as part of the ikat patterns. All hail the humble stripe that ranks the sibolang as the prominent, ritual, indigo textile of the Batak.

It is also notable that the white or light blue stripe threads are all cut off where the twined end borders begin and are not twisted into the fringes that remain a pure, dark indigo. There is usually another narrow band of ikat bordered by wider stripes on either side of the main central motifs and then a wide, plain band or stripe of dark indigo on both selvages binding the whole textile in a frame of dark, rich indigo. Indigo was probably man's first color dye, after perhaps black or brown mud dyes, and stripes the first patterns. Do have a look at Pamela's sibolang in the photo galleries if you haven't already. It is finer and probably older than mine judging from the size, intricate ikat motifs and deep, rich indigo color. It is a work of art. I must also thank Pamela and Sandra Niessen for the information in this post and for helping me understand how the mysterious sibolang is produced. All the information is theirs and any misinterpretation of it mine.

Best regards

Sibolang 195 x 90 cen .jpg
Sibolang 195 x 90 cen .jpg [ 433.97 KiB | Viewed 3272 times ]
Sibolang 195 x 90 cen.  jpg.jpg
Sibolang 195 x 90 cen. jpg.jpg [ 305.33 KiB | Viewed 3272 times ]
File comment: Note the cut off white threads just where the border begins.
Sibolang 195 x 90 cen. End Border jpg.jpg
Sibolang 195 x 90 cen. End Border jpg.jpg [ 260.42 KiB | Viewed 3272 times ]
Sibolang 195 x 90 cen.  UP   2014-02-03.jpg
Sibolang 195 x 90 cen. UP 2014-02-03.jpg [ 248.37 KiB | Viewed 3272 times ]
Sibolang  195 x 90 cen. UP 2014-02-03.jpg
Sibolang 195 x 90 cen. UP 2014-02-03.jpg [ 236.45 KiB | Viewed 3272 times ]
 Post subject: Re: Batak Sibolang
PostPosted: Fri Feb 07, 2014 7:52 am 
Site Admin

Joined: Sun Jun 29, 2003 1:42 pm
Posts: 2001
Location: Canterbury, UK
Thank you very much, MAC, for posting about your sibolang. I very much am drawn to these subtle cloths which have been so finely warped. I also have a sibolang without any ikat, a sibolang limas.

For my sibolang si lima tuho see ... l/VT12.htm If you look at the photo of the funeral of Theodorik Lumban Tobing in 1972 you will see a man about to put a sibolang over the coffin and the husband of the eldest granddaughter of the deceased wearing one over his shoulder in the centre of the photo ... uneral.htm

I am posting an image of a sibolang being used to wrap bones which have been dug up and being placed in a small coffin before they will be transported elsewhere and reburied. They are the bones of Theodorik Lumban Tobing's mother originally buried in Pematang Siantar - where she moved to be with Theodorik and his family when her husband died - dug up before going back to the Silindung valley where the family originated so she could be buried with her husband.

File comment: sibolang wrapping bones which have been dug up and will be re-buried
MHNH-Bones-wrapping.jpg [ 83.33 KiB | Viewed 3262 times ]

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