Symbolic cloth with rattan pattern (ragi hotang)

CULTURE:
Batak people
DATE:
probably early 20th century
more object details

General Description

The somber yet majestic color scheme of Batak textiles contrasts starkly with the raw energy of much Batak sculpture. The restricted palette is richly symbolic, for in ritual contexts black (or very dark blue), red, and white represent the three cosmic levels—the lower, middle, and upper worlds. This particular ulos, or cloth, takes its name, ragi hotang ("rattan pattern"), from the delicate white dashes in the warp stripes at its center; these imitate the markings on rattan, itself a symbol of long life to the Batak.

Excerpt from

Carol Robbins, Label text, 1990.

NOTES