The main motif on this striking silk and metallic thread brocade is a flowering tree with multicoloured leaves and fruit. Heads of the mythical long-tongued Kala Rauh appear with birds, butterflies and dragonflies in the heavenly upper realms, while ferocious winged lions and reptilian climbing creatures flank the lower trunk. The motif may represent a tree of life acting as an axis mundi between the layers of the cosmos. Flame-like triangles appear in the borders of this songket.
The richness of the gold thread and the intricacy of the silk weaving indicate that this cloth was woven in one of Bali’s palaces (puri). This songketis in the form of a nobleman’s wrap (saput; kampuhin High Balinese) tied with woven braid around the upper torso, over a lower skirt cloth on ceremonial occasions.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2011
From: Asian gallery extended display label