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PostPosted: Fri Aug 11, 2006 11:22 am 

Joined: Fri Aug 11, 2006 11:14 am
Posts: 1
I am searching for info on the chinese altar cloth used in Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia. Some are embroidery while others are batik. Wud appreciate anyone with relevant info.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 11, 2006 1:26 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jun 29, 2003 1:42 pm
Posts: 2001
Location: Canterbury, UK
I am going to move this thread up to 'General' as it is a textile enquiry and not (currently?) shopping!

Not quite sure what info you are looking for on the altar cloths that are used by the Straits Chinese communities in the places in southeast Asia that you mention. You might want to have a look in a book such as 'The Straits Chinese: A Cultural History' by Khoo Joo Ee published by the Pepin Press in 1996. I bought my copy in KL (having seen at a higher cost in Singapore in the Kinokuniya Bookshop) for background and a couple of examples.

The textile styles, Budhist religion, also Daoism, and community traditions have been brought from mainland China by the overseas Chinese when they moved to Malaysia (both east and west), Singapore and Indonesia.

There used to be a good Peranakan exhibition in the National Museum of Singapore giving information and background on the Chinese who settled and intermarried with the local Malays and I am sure that there were altar cloths there. (Not sure if this exhibition is still running as I know that the Museum has been the subject of major rennovation works. I have tried to find out from their website which is now one of the MOST irritating ones I have found - all flash and no information! ) I also recall embroideries, including, I think, altar clothes in the Kuching Museum in Sarawak which has a Perankan section.

The altar cloths are often stitched on silk satin in a range of fine embroidery stitches and are often embellished with gold threads and sometimes beadwork.

Altars might be in temples or in private homes which would usually have a family altar which might have an altar cloth.

If you have some more specific question(s) perhaps we can try to answer them.

on-line tribal textiles resource

Last edited by Pamela on Sun Aug 16, 2009 8:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

 Post subject: Altar cloth
PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2007 11:31 am 

Joined: Fri Aug 11, 2006 5:07 am
Posts: 6
Location: Singapore
Hi guys,

I notice from observation that the altar cloths used by the Straits Chinese in Malaysia/Singapore/Indonesia:
a) of embroidery - could be from any of this region
b) of batik - rather exclusively from Indonesia, esp. Java island where there is a strong tradition of batik-producing among the locals, including the Peranakan (localized Chinese) there.

In the language used, these are called tokwi or table drapes/cloth in the Chinese Hokkien dialect.

I understand that different kinds of altar used different colour schemes but am unsure of the various colours used and what they represent, or whether they are from old homes or temples.

Rather late post but hope it helps :)

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Aug 16, 2009 5:03 pm 

Joined: Sat Aug 15, 2009 7:24 pm
Posts: 1
Location: Bangkok

I am new to this forum, so been trying to catch up and read some of the old post and see if i can share my comments on any of them.

From what i read and talked with people in Indonesia, traditioanlly, altar cloth are made from find silk with heavy golden thread embroidery and couching. However due to humidity and weather condition, such material and fabric work are not so durable in use, so batik type is used instead.

Hope you still find this useful.


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