Ceremonial hanging (palepai)

CULTURE:
Paminggir people
DATE:
19th century
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General Description

One of the most dramatic Indonesian textiles is the ceremonial hanging called palepai, a long, horizontal cloth whose stylized motifs include a ship with scrolled prows (the central portion of this example), animals bearing riders, and architectural structures or trees. Ships are symbols of transition, of auspicious passage for the human spirit, which is especially vulnerable during rites of passage. The use of these textiles was restricted to titled members of the Lampung aristocracy, who had the right to handle them during rituals commemorating major life events: as a backdrop for the bride during a wedding ceremony, for the presentation of a child to the maternal grandparents at a naming ceremony, and for a funeral. The presence of the_ palepai_ defined ritual space. When several palepai were hung together, the placement of a particular textile reflected the rank of its owner and the relationship of the owner to other members of the social group.

Excerpt from

"Ceremonial hanging (palepai)," in Dallas Museum of Art: A Guide to the Collection, ed. Bonnie Pitman (Dallas: Dallas Museum of Art; New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2012), 111.