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 Post subject: Skirts from Kalimantan
PostPosted: Tue Jul 18, 2006 4:11 pm 

Joined: Mon May 24, 2004 7:35 pm
Posts: 177
Location: east coast
I just acquired two skirts made probably in the first quarter of the 1900's by the Mualang. The Mualang live in the Indonesian portion of Borneo (Kalimantan) and are an "ibanic" people related to the vastly more numerous Iban nearly all of whom live in the Malaysian state of Sarawak. Their language, culture and customs are very similar and so also are their weavings (with important differences).

These skirts are handspun cotton and natural dyes and made by the ikat method. Skirts were usually called "bidang" by Westerners but it is becoming more common to refer to them by its weaving method so these are termed "kain kebat". Kain = any type of fabric and kebat = tied or wrapped in the Iban language.

In contrast to Iban weavings, there is little written on those of the Ibanic peoples so I thought perhaps others might enjoy seeing some of the Muslang skirts from my collection. (I posted some others before also.)

Mualang skifts I have in my collection or have seen elsewhere are symmetrical above and below a center void. The two skirts I just acquired are unusual for Mualang (at least to me) in not having that characteristic.

The spiral forms in the patterns are probably related to leeches which could be fertility icons and/or marks of bravery for a woman to weave and wear such rather disgusting creatures. Such patterns were worn by young women hoping to catch the attention of a brave headhunting male.

I made a statistical analysis of skirts from different ibanic weavers and the Mualang skirts tend to be the widest and more ankle rather than knee length.

(I had to exceed the limit on picture size a bit because smaller resolutions produced moire effects distorting and blurring the patterns. I hope this has not cause downloading problems for others.)


File comment: Mualang kain kebat (ikat patterned skirt). The symmetry above and below the center void is very typical of Mualang skirt patterns. This particular pattern is (was?) popular and seen in a number of close variations.
mualang_bold.jpg [ 94.59 KiB | Viewed 5035 times ]
File comment: Mualang kain kebat. Notice the assymetry along the warp direction. contrast with the previous skirt.
mualang_skirt 10.jpg
mualang_skirt 10.jpg [ 105.71 KiB | Viewed 5035 times ]
File comment: Mualang kain kebat. Also notable for its assymetry along the warp direction.
mualang_ skirt 11.jpg
mualang_ skirt 11.jpg [ 111.98 KiB | Viewed 5035 times ]

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