, Woman's ceremonial skirt [tapis inu] Enlarge | zoom 1 /1
Paminggir people Woman's ceremonial skirt [tapis inu] 19th century Title Notes: with stylised human figures wearing radiating coiled headdresses, and patola-inspired motifs
Place made: Lampung, Sumatra, Indonesia
Materials & Technique: textiles, ceremonial objects, cotton, silk, natural dyes silk, cotton, natural dyes; warp ikat, embroidery
Dimensions: 126.5 h x 122.0 w cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1989
Accession No: NGA 89.1490

Textiles such as this fine woman’s ceremonial skirt (tapis inu) would once have been sewn up as a tubular skirt. This skirt is unusual because the design on the central embroidered band can only be read clearly when the textile is turned on its side, rather than worn as a cylinder in the manner intended. A row of intricately worked and stylised human figures are depicted, each crowned with an elaborate curling headdress. Since they appear to be male and female, this band may symbolise fertility. While these are ancient motifs, the warp ikat field flanking them shows the influence of imported Indian textiles such as the prestigious silk patola.

The combination of ancient warp ikat and delicate embroidery in imported silk threads is a feature of the ceremonial skirts worn by noblewomen in the Lampung region of Sumatra. The designs often incorporate ancient symbols, in particular the ship motif and anthropomorphic figures with radiating headdresses, in bright silk embroidered bands against the hooks and spirals of the warp ikat. These skirts are visual evidence of the wealth and prosperity of families, and are prominent at the many ceremonies that celebrate changes in social and ritual status throughout the life of an individual.


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

This fine woman’s ceremonial skirt (tapis inu) would once have been sewn into a tubular form. The skirt, however, is unusual because the design on the central embroidered band can only be read clearly when the textile is turned on its side, rather than worn as a cylinder in the manner intended. A row of intricately worked and stylised human figures are depicted, each crowned with an elaborate curling headdress. Since they appear to be male and female, this band may symbolise fertility. While these are ancient motifs, the warp ikat field flanking them shows the influence of imported Indian textiles such as the prestigious silk patola.

The combination of ancient warp ikat and delicate embroidery in imported silk threads is a feature of the ceremonial skirts worn by noblewomen in the Lampung region of Sumatra. The designs often incorporate ancient symbols, in particular the ship motif and anthropomorphic figures with radiating headdresses, in bright silk embroidered bands against the hooks and spirals of the warp ikat. These skirts are visual evidence of the wealth and prosperity of families, and were prominent at the many ceremonies that celebrate changes in social and ritual status throughout the life of an individual.


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