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Asian Art
Southeast Asia gallery See nearby items (accurate to +/- 12 hrs)
ON DISPLAY
LVL 1
Late Bronze Age, possibly Borneo The Bronze Weaver 6th century Place made: Indonesia
Materials & Technique: sculptures, bronze lost-wax casting
Dimensions: 25.8 h x 22.8 w x 15.2 d cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 2006
Accession No: NGA 2006.412
Provenance:
  • The supplied chain of ownership for this object is currently being reviewed and further research is underway. The provenance information listed has been substantiated by documentation. Details may be refined and updated as research progresses.
  • recorded as being owned by a family in a village south of Larantuka, Flores, Indonesia, 1977 or before
  • believed to have been in France by c 1982
  • with George Ortiz, Geneva, 1984 or before
  • from whom bought through Robert Bleakley by the National Gallery of Australia, 2006 for USD 3,240,000

MORE DETAIL

  • This sixth-century bronze sculpture of a mother suckling her young child, who touchingly clutches her other breast, is the rarest, oldest and most important Southeast Asian work of art in the National Gallery of Australia’s collection. Recent dating of its clay core reveals that the figure was cast between 556 and 596, over 1400 years ago.

    The bronze weaver is a superb example of the archaic Southeast Asian style, associated with animist beliefs in the power of ancestors and the natural world, which predated the Indian-influenced Hindu–Buddhist religions of the region. The woman is seated at a simple foot-braced loom and is dressed only in a calf-length skirt, echoing traditional dress styles of the remote regions of Indonesia today. Her braided and plaited hair is unusual, and she wears a simple necklace and bold hollow ear plugs. The sculpture was found on the Indonesian island of Flores, where it survived as a family heirloom. In Flores, women still weave patterned cotton textiles for ceremonial wear and gift exchange on body-tension looms very similar to the one depicted here, while men commonly carve ancestral figures from wood.


    Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
    From: Ron Radford (ed), Collection highlights: National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2008

  • This sixth-century bronze sculpture of a mother suckling her young child, who touchingly clutches her other breast, is the rarest and most important Southeast Asian work of art in the National Gallery of Australia’s collection. One of the oldest objects in the collection, dating of its clay core reveals that the figure was cast between the years 556 and 596, over 1400 years ago.

    The Bronze Weaver is a superb example of the archaic Southeast Asian style associated with animist beliefs in the power of ancestors and the natural world, which predated the Indian-influenced Hindu–Buddhist religions of the region. The woman is seated at a simple foot-braced loom and is dressed only in a calf-length skirt, echoing traditional dress styles of the remote regions of Indonesia today. Her braided and plaited hair is unusual, and she wears a simple necklace and bold hollow ear plugs. The sculpture was found on the Indonesian island of Flores, where it survived as a family heirloom, but is likely to have been made on the island of Borneo. In Flores, women still weave patterned cotton textiles for ceremonial wear and gift exchange on body-tension looms very similar to the one depicted here, while men commonly carve ancestral figures from wood.


    Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2014
    From: Collection highlights: National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2014

  • Description

    This is a 6th century sculpture from Flores, Indonesia depicting a mother suckling her young child while seated at a simple foot-braced loom. It is the rarest, oldest and most important Southeast Asian work of art in the National Gallery of Australia’s collection. The sculpture is shown in nine enlargeable images. Text onscreen gives information about the importance of this work and provides a strong visual analysis of the Southeast Asian style. The sculpture measures 25.8 cm high x 22.8 cm wide x 15.2 cm deep and was constructed out of bronze using lost-wax casting.

    Educational value

    • This is an excellent resource for the Responding strand in the visual arts curriculum for students in upper primary and secondary schooling, especially for those content descriptions that refer to considering the broader context of works of art, such as their social, cultural and historical context and role of the artist and of the audience/s. Weaving is a tradition that Flores women still continue and men still create sculpture, albeit wooden forms.
    • The resource is useful for the Asia and Australia's engagement with Asia cross-curriculum priority. This highly significant sculpture connects with the priority’s organising ideas about the peoples of Asia contributing to world history and human endeavour and about the arts and literature of Asia influencing aesthetic and creative pursuits within Australia, the region and globally.

    Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010

  • This 6th century bronze sculpture of a mother suckling her young child while seated at her loom is the oldest Southeast Asian work of art in the National Gallery’s collection. Recent thermoluminescence dating of its core reveals that the figure was cast between 556 and 596 (1450–1410 years before the present). Today men carve ancestral figures from wood.

    The Bronze Weaver is a superb example of the archaic Southeast Asian style, associated with animist beliefs in the power of ancestors and the natural world, that predated the Indian influenced Hindu-Buddhist religions of the region. The sculpture was found on the Indonesian island of Flores where women still weave patterned cotton textiles for ceremonial wear and gift exchange on very similar body-tension looms to the one depicted here.


    Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2011
    From: Asian gallery extended display label