Ceremonial textile (palepai)

DATE:
late 19th century
MATERIAL AND TECHNIQUE:
Cotton and metal-wrapped cotton yarn
CLASSIFICATION:
Textiles
DIMENSIONS:
27 × 135 3/4 in. (68.58 cm × 3 m 44.81 cm) Framed dimensions: 34 × 141 × 1 in. (86.36 cm × 3 m 58.14 cm × 2.54 cm)
DEPARTMENT:
Arts of the Pacific Islands
LOCATION:
Not On View
CREDIT LINE:
Dallas Museum of Art, the Steven G. Alpert Collection of Indonesian Textiles, gift of The Eugene McDermott Foundation
COPYRIGHT:
Image courtesy Dallas Museum of Art.
OBJECT NUMBER:
1983.80

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 hang them during rituals that commemorated major life events—as a backdrop for the bridge 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.

Excerpt from

Label text, All the World's A Stage: Celebrating Performance in the Visual Arts, 2009.