The fabrics of Indonesia have long held an allure. They have now won universal popularity, so much so that local names for techniques of dying and weaving - batik, ikat, tritik - have been adopted internationally as generic terms. The reverence accorded to textile art on the islands is reflected in precision of weave and exquisite patterning. The rich array of design in reflected in this book. Over 200 photographs illustrate the cloud shapes, geometric forms, human and animal figures, Indian symbols and even Dutch Art Deco designs that have been rendered as textile motifs. Based on first-hand research, often conducted in remote areas, John Gillow's account comprises a history of textile production in the Indonesian archipelago, from Balinese double-ikats and Javanese silks to the gold-thread brocades of Sumatra.
Textiles have long been integral to the social life and cosmology of the people of East Sumba, Indonesia. In recent decades, the Sumbanese have entered a larger world economy as their textiles have joined the commodity flow of an international "ethnic arts" market, stimulated by Indonesia's tourist trade. As Sumba's villagers respond to an immensely expanded commerce in their cloth, tensions and ironies emerge between historical and innovative forms in both cloth and lives. Using a narrative approach, Jill Forshee takes readers into diverse lives, including those of villagers traveling to Bali and tourists visiting Sumba, and follows their adventures along various routes over time. Through personal stories of those involved in the contemporary production and trade of local cloth, a vivid account emerges of the inner workings of a so-called "traditional" society and its arts responding inventively to decades of international collecting. These stories expand anthropological concepts of the boundaries of regions and the certainties of cultures in ways that are tangible and immediate to the reader. Moreover, the book illuminates some formerly unexplored conditions of artistic provenance.
About the Author
Jill Forshee is a research fellow at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, University of California, Berkeley.
The Art of Indonesian Textiles: The E. M. Bakwin Collection at the Art Institute of Chicago (Museum Studies)
This beautiful volume showcases over seventy remarkable examples of Indonesian textile art, a recent gift to the Art Institute from the E. M. Bakwin Collection. The featured works, including batiks, ikats, and other textiles, represent the finest examples of Indonesia's textile production and evoke the region's rich ethnic and cultural complexity. Indonesian textile expert Brigitte Khan Majlis explores these objects not only as works of art - stunning products of both individual creativity and a long aesthetic tradition - but also as important artifacts that illuminate the history, beliefs, and lives of the people who make and treasure them. Generously illustrated, "The Art of Indonesian Textiles" also features fascinating contextual photographs and engaging entries on each of the featured objects.
About the Author
Brigitte Khan Majlis is curator of the textile department at the Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum of Ethnography, Cologne, Germany.