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Loan Object
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Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
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Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery

Woman’s Ceremonial Skirt (Tapis)

16th or 17th century

Cotton and silk; warp ikat, embroidery

127 × 129 cm (50 × 50 13/16in.)
Robert J. Holmgren and Anita E. Spertus Collection, Promised gift of Thomas Jaffe, B.A. 1971
In southern Sumatra, cloths are an essential part of all life-cycle rituals, present at weddings, funerals, and ceremonies celebrating a person’s status. Some of the finest textiles in Southeast Asia have been produced in the region. However, high-quality weaving virtually disappeared in the early twentieth century, and little is known about the history and meaning of the early textile designs. Tapis skirts from Lampung usually combine warp ikat with silk embroidery. Here, mermaids lounge beside spirit houses decked with buffalo horns. The asymmetric ikat panels suggest peacocks and zoomorphs; symmetric panels display anthropomorphs in boats. Only one other multi-color, painterly scene with mermaids and shrines is known (in the National Gallery of Australia). Both were acquired from aristocratic ruling families.
Made in Lampung, Sumatra, Indonesia
Not on view
17th century

Ex-collection: Robert J. Holmgren and Anita E. Spertus, New York. First known collector: Suardy (2900)

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.