Gold cloths of Sumatra: Indonesia’s songkets from ceremony to commodity

SKU: 9789067183123 Category:

Songket textiles are gleaming prestige cloths created when hand-loom weavers add metal-wrapped threads across the weft to build up intricate motif bands of geometric and botanical designs. The supplementary wefts are gold-wrapped silk or fine cotton yarns; silver-wrapped threads are also found in some of Indonesia’s old songket weaving regions. Employing a weaving technique that is hundreds of years old in Malaysia, Sumatra, coastal Kalimantan, and east Bali and nearby islands, songket artistry is a thriving, living, even expanding art form, asthis textile type captures the attention of new markets in an Indonesian public culture that is both tradition-minded and obsessed with modernity and middle class success. Gold Cloths of Sumatra combines the interpretive approaches of textile scholarship and cultural anthropology to explore songket aesthetics, as this remarkable shining gold cloth moves beyond ceremonial contexts to become a “hot item” as a marketable commodity, for sale as heritage textile and collectible. Chapters focus on contemporary sognket craft by Minangkabau, Palembang, and Jambi weavers, set against a background of nineteenth-century songket weaving excellence. As commodities, present-day Sumatran songkets show high levels of weaving creativity and technical brilliance, making songkets a resilient art. Susan Rodgers is professor of anthropology at the College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, Massachusetts. She is the author of Telling Lives, Telling History: Autobiography and Historical Imagination in Indonesia. Anne Summerfield and John Summerfield are the authors of Walk in Splendor: Ceremonial Dress and the Minangkabau. Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Art Gallery, College of the Holy Cross.

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