Woman's Embroidered Vest (Baju Mesirat)
Gayo or Alas People, Central Aceh, Indonesia
early 20th century

width: 38cm, length: 40cm

This vest of black calico cotton is finely and densely embroidered with red, green, cream and yellow stitching, and pink edging. Such embroidery, known as
tabour work, was done by Gayo men of central and highlands Aceh in the early part of the twentieth century using old, foot-pedalled sewing machines
imported by the Dutch.

The vest is similarly embroidered front and back and with bands of geometric motifs in keeping with the Islamic aesthetic, and panels of spidery cotton motifs.

The vest is in particularly good condition particularly given its age. There is some fraying here and there, but there are no significant holes or repairs, and the
condition remains robust and stable.

A very similar example is illustrated in Maxwell (2003, p. 404).

References:
Leigh, B.,
Hands of Time: The Crafts of Aceh, Penerbit Djambatan, 1989.
Maxwell, R.,
Textiles of Southeast Asia: Tradition, Trade and Transformation, Periplus, 2003.

Provenance: UK private collection

Inventory no.: 2127

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