Monday, March 31, 2008

Iban textiles

Iban TextilesIban Ritual Textile by Traude Gavin (RM 75.00)

Iban ritual textile draws on years of fieldwork and the author's documentation of the hundrds of Iban cloths. Topics include the ritual functions of Iban ikat-patterned fabric; the technical aspects of producing such cloths, as well as the dynamics of the complex of weaving (the power and efficacy of cloth patterns, dreams and charms) that can be subject to human interpretation and regulation. The main focus however is on the cloth patterns themselves and on the names assigned to them. Here the author challenges some long held misconceptions, in particular the notion of designs as a 'primitive form of language'. From this novel perspective, the role of weavers as technicians is set off against the power of patterns as an index for a weaver's relative rank. The study moves on to examine the
association of female prestige and weaving with the parallel structure of male status and headhunting. Findings further are discussed in the context of former and more recent intellectual frameworks.

Iban ritual textile is the first in-depth study of the ikat-patterned cloth based on extensive field research and should be of interest to anthropologists, art historians and scholars with an interest in the textile tradition of Southeast Asia.

Dr Traude Gavin is a freelance researcher and lecturer and lives in Great Britain.

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