19th Early 20th century
Cotton; resist dyed (batik)
155 x 14.5 in / 394 x 37 cm
Toraja textiles collectively are amongst the most interesting and diverse of Indonesian ritual cloth. They include long narrow banners called sarita that were hung from tall bamboo poles or wrapped around a sacred space. Most often they are indigo in color and patterned with a local batik method featuring geometric motifs, with humans and buffalos occasionally making an appearance. Very rare are saritas hand painted with mud dye, sharing a kinship with magic cloths known as maá or mawa for which there could be as few as 15-20 known, the present piece being one of them. Note the passages showing people working the animals, beating the rice, and weaving, summing to a tremendously compelling ritual cloth.
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