Between the Folds: Stories of Cloth, Lives, and Travels from by Jill Forshee

By Jill Forshee

Textiles have lengthy been necessary to the social existence and cosmology of the folk of East Sumba, Indonesia. In contemporary many years, the Sumbanese have entered a bigger global economic climate as their textiles have joined the commodity movement of a world "ethnic arts" marketplace, inspired via Indonesia's vacationer alternate. As Sumba's villagers reply to an immensely improved trade of their textile, tensions and ironies emerge among old and cutting edge types in either textile and lives. utilizing a story process, Jill Forshee takes readers into different lives, together with these of villagers touring to Bali and travelers vacationing Sumba, and follows their adventures alongside a variety of routes over the years. via own tales of these fascinated with the modern construction and alternate of neighborhood textile, a vibrant account emerges of the internal workings of a so-called "traditional" society and its arts responding inventively to a long time of foreign gathering. those tales extend anthropological strategies of the limitations of areas and the certainties of cultures in ways in which are tangible and rapid to the reader. in addition, the booklet illuminates a few previously unexplored stipulations of inventive provenance.

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Additional info for Between the Folds: Stories of Cloth, Lives, and Travels from Sumba

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Figure 8. A hinggi in its full length. 34 ENFOLDING HISTORY AND FLUX Reflecting dualistic principles of the Marapu belief system in their bifacial formats, these fabrics are vivid with motifs denoting cosmological symbolism, as well as local symbols of status regarding clan, gender, and rank (to be discussed below). 12 Hinggi pieces are actually two separately woven, identically designed fabrics (of about one meter in width and three meters in length), which are finally hand sewn together to create a large mantle in which motifs are repeated four times.

Although currently people are far more dispersed from their ancestral regions than in the past (through occupations brought about by modern economic changes),5 attitudes of many people in the region of my study echo what Marie Jeanne Adams concluded thirty years ago: “the Sumbanese individual is primarily conscious of his identity as a member of a household, uma, linked with a localized lineage, kabihu, while at the same time his loyalties and duties are organized in complex ways within a territorial unit, the tana, or district” (1969:22–23).

Aquatic and amphibious creatures such as shrimp (kura mbiu), crayfish (kurangu), turtles (kara), snakes (kataru), and crocodiles (wuya) relate to noble ranks, denoting qualities such as cunning, bravery, dualistic powers, and transformation to the next world (awangu). Adams notes the powers of their dual nature: “On another level of meaning, the textiles may serve as symbols of passage to the other world, which is essentially the under world of water, and of the upper world of the firmament. In this connection, creatures that participate in both environments, such as crocodiles, snakes, or winged snake-dragons, may be meaningful symbols of the way” (1969:167; italics added).

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