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There is Sumatran silks, glowing reds and shining golds, and Sumbanese ikat, with rusty reds and deep blues in bold patterns. The colorful rainbow stripes of Timorese ikat contrasts with the deeper browns and oranges and navy blue of the ikat of the islands of Alor, Flores and Savu.

Every color can be found in the soft cotton batiks of Java the bright colors of the north coast cloths, especially from Cirebon and Pekalongan, and the fine browns, whites and indigos of the court cloths of solo and Yogyakarta. There are glorious Javanese silk batiks as well - soft and floating, in glowing color and design. From Bali there is a veritable explosion of color and totally modern design.

First of all, most of these cloths are really items of clothing, Tubular sarongs are usually worn by older women in Java; younger women prefer the more flattering fit of the tightly wrapped two or two - and — a - half meter kain panjang (literally: long cloth). The central Javanese courts of Solo and Yogyakarta are famed for their intricate batik kain panjang in fine cotton worn by both men and women alike wrapped snugly around the waist and hips, with tiny pleats.

In Sumatra, as in Nusa Tenggara, the narrow, elaborate tubular sarongs are worn by women.


The songket, which builds up lavish weft designs in gold or silver thread is another decorative technique common in Indonesia. The supplementary metallic filaments are added to the silk weft during the weaving process. The silk weft is tightly packed, causing the metallic thread to sit on top in a slightly raised pattern. It can also be decorated with medallions.

The cloth — of — gold or kain songket is from West Sumatra. All but hidden by the dense supplementary weft subtly works to influence the perception of color in the cloth. Of articulating them is concise and elegant.

The ornate golden threads on the sarongs of Lampung make them very heavy, do the top is often left plain so the sarong can be tightly tide and folded. Several popular textiles from Sumatra aren’t worn — they ‘re wall hangings or gift covers for ceremonies. The ship — cloths, more properly called tampan (if small ) or palepai ( if large ), are also brought out for ceremonies . The tampan is used to cover gifts in certain ritual for example, during the wedding. The palepai is hung to decorate the house for most ceremonies or festive occasions.

The best of these cloths traditionally formed part of a family’s assets. They were brought out and worn or displayed during ceremonies, used as dowry items, and exchanged during ceremonies.

Many of these customs are still followed. For example, during weddings, Batak families keep careful count of which clans donate what type of large woven cloths back in exchange in a very formal, ritualized set of ceremonies. An ulos is also worn at least as a shoulder cloth during most Batak ceremonies even society weddings in Jakarta, over Western suits. Weaving and batiking are still a vital and thriving part of Indonesia ‘sway of life.

Textiles have been the medium of visual expression in Indonesia for centuries, and have remained a major form of communication until recently. For this reason there are many wonderful textiles, both from a technical and visual standpoint, made within the past 200 years. The thousand of islands that compose Indonesia have given home to unique cultural groups. Each island or area has a distinctive dress expressing his or her religious ideas and social structure. As these forms have crystallized over the centuries, the manner of articulating them is concise and elegant.


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