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Very Fine Post-Mourning Widow's Gold Thread & Green & Red Weft Ikat Silk Songket
Malay people, Palembang, Indonesia
19th century

length: 220cm, width: 80cm

This superb songket of red and green silk has been richly and particularly finely woven with gold thread and blue and green thread. The motifs in gold include
stylised serpents or
naga. The goldwork is unusually fine, indicating that this songket would have been worn by a lady of particularly high status.

Such a
songket with the central panel left unadorned is said to have been worn by widows who were past their mourning period and were now ready to
remarry. The wearing of a brightly coloured
songket with gold highlights indicated to potential suitors the womans availability for marriage. Such a songket
would have been worn as a shawl or shoulder cloth and was known as a
selendang janda pengatim.

Vanderstraete (2012, p. 395) suggests that the combined use of red and gold could be related to the Islamicisation of the region.

Related examples are illustrated in McIntosh (2012, p. 207) and Vanderstraete (2012, p. 395).

The example here is in excellent, museum-quality condition. There are no holes and no repairs. Fold lines are minimal. The textile is far finer than suggested
by the images.

References:
Brinkgreve, F., & D.J. Stuart-Fox (eds), Living with Indonesian Art: The Frits Liefkes Collection, Rijksmuseum Volkenkunde, 2013.
Maxwell, R.,
Sari to Sarong: Five Hundred Years of Indians and Indonesian Textile Exchange, NGA, 2003.
McIntosh, L.S.,
Art of Southeast Asian Textiles: The Tilleke & Gibbons Collection, Serindia Publications, 2012.
Vanderstraete, A.,
Magie van de Vrouw: Weefsels en Sieraden uit de Gordel van Smaragd (The Magic of Women), Wereldmuseum, 2012.

Provenance: private collection, UK.

Inventory no.: 3819 SOLD

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