By Jill Forshee
Textiles have lengthy been quintessential to the social lifestyles and cosmology of the folk of East Sumba, Indonesia. In contemporary many years, the Sumbanese have entered a bigger international economic climate as their textiles have joined the commodity circulate of a global "ethnic arts" industry, prompted through Indonesia's vacationer exchange. As Sumba's villagers reply to an immensely extended trade of their fabric, tensions and ironies emerge among historic and cutting edge kinds in either textile and lives. utilizing a story method, Jill Forshee takes readers into diversified lives, together with these of villagers touring to Bali and travelers vacationing Sumba, and follows their adventures alongside a number of routes over the years. via own tales of these excited about the modern creation and alternate of neighborhood textile, a bright account emerges of the interior workings of a so-called "traditional" society and its arts responding inventively to many years of overseas gathering. those tales extend anthropological recommendations of the barriers of areas and the certainties of cultures in ways in which are tangible and speedy to the reader. additionally, the booklet illuminates a few previously unexplored stipulations of creative provenance.
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Additional info for Between the Folds: Stories of Cloth, Lives, and Travels from Sumba
Gregory Forth notes the particular value the eastern Sumbanese attach to place and to staying in place, and how this is consistent with the highly ascriptive nature of their society (1991b:72). Such ideas of place persist with many villagers; yet as people increasingly move about the island by way of public transport, travel away from Sumba, or encounter foreigners, their “grids” become less consistent. 15 Nonetheless, there is tenacious conviction among people in East Sumba in the powers of specifically local spirits and natural omens, as well as ubiquitous fear of malign magic (mamarung) inflicted by mortals.
As Robyn Maxwell concludes of many textile patterns throughout South- 37 FABRICSCAPES 38 east Asia, their original meanings have also changed, and nowadays weavers often look to their immediate world to explain the meanings of motifs and are no longer aware of what they may have meant to their ancestors (1990a:26). This uncertainty, however, leaves room for maneuver. Motifs of eastern Sumba repeat and vary considerably between village regions. I cannot describe here all of the numerous images employed in the region but will introduce a few in terms of their importance in communities I worked in.
The deepest hues result from repeated immersions in dye baths, with periods of drying in between. Dyeing is a prolonged operation, often lasting weeks. For instance, one indigo dyer submerged her yarns in a dye pot for three days before hanging them out to oxidize in the daylight. She repeated this ten times, to ultimately achieve a blue-black hue. Discerning of the quality of the colors in a fabric, Sumbanese prize those attained by a succession of dye immersions. Natural dyes are always preferred to chemical ones available in markets.