In the Southeast Asian archipelago, making cloth is regarded as the archetypal form of women’s labor. Traditionally, women learned the textile arts—typically weaving or making batik—before they were eligible for marriage. Later in life, excelling in making cloth, and especially in mastering complex natural-dye processes, was regarded as the highest measure of a woman’s achievement. Scholars who have conducted textile research in Southeast Asia have invariably been awed by the strength of character of the extraordinary women who become master textile artists.
Weavers’ Stories from Island Southeast Asia is an experimental exhibition that provides museum visitors an opportunity to engage more deeply with the lives of the women whose cloths they see on view. Through the use of video recorded in eight sites in four countries—Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Timor Leste (East Timor)—weavers Sisilia Sii, Luisa de Jesus, Rambu Pakki and Rambu Tokung, Margareta Taub Kapitan, Dapong anak Sempurai, and Lang Dulay, as well as batik makers Siti Samsiyah, Raden Ayu Brongtodiningrat, and Wiwin Fitriana, tell their stories in their own words.
The presentation of
this exhibition at the Johnson Museum was organized by Ellen Avril, Chief
Curator and Curator of Asian Art, and supported in part by the Donald and Maria
Cox Exhibition Endowment.
This exhibition was
curated by Roy W. Hamilton, Curator of Asian and Pacific Collections at the
Fowler Museum at UCLA. Major support was provided by the Henry Luce Foundation
and the R. L. Shep Endowment Fund of the Fowler Museum. Additional support was
provided by the Asian Cultural Council, the Fowler Museum Textile Council and
the National Commission for Culture and the Arts of the Republic of the
Philippines. Visit the exhibition website.
Images from Weavers' Stories from Island Southeast Asia (Click an image to open slideshow)
Ceremonial cloth (pua kumbu) woven by Dapong anak Sempurai (Malaysian), ca. 1991. Cotton; warp Ikat. Collection of the Fowler Museum.›
Woman’s skirt cloth (sarong), Giat Mandiri batik workshop (Indonesia), 2007. Hand-drawn batik on commercial cotton. Collection of the Fowler Museum, commissioned for Weavers’ Stories.›
Woman’s tube skirt (tais) woven by Margareta Taub Kapitan (Indonesian), ca. 1990s. Supplementary-weft wrapping technique; synthetic fiber. Collection of the Fowler Museum.›
Woman’s tube skirt (lau pahudu) woven by Rambu Tokung (Indonesian), ca. 2000. Supplementary-warp technique; cotton. Collection of the Fowler Museum.›