Ceremonial cloth (tampan)

Paminggir people
19th century
more object details

General Description

Dragon-shaped boats decorate the top and bottom of this cloth. Between them is a gigantic mythological creature with an oversized head, hunkered body, and arms or tails with fingerlike appendages. Its long triangular face, exposed teeth, flared nostrils, and accentuated eyes are those of protective supernatural animals. Jellyfish, a tree with forking roots, stylized human figures, and ritual houses shaped like umbrellas are also depicted. The fantastic motifs are derived from Indianized Buddhist and Hindu imagery as well as from elsewhere in Southeast Asia and China over a very long period of time.

Tampan were displayed during status-raising rituals and major ceremonies such as birth, circumcision, marriage, and death. In addition to being displayed, tampan were used as covers and pillows, stacked or clustered near important elders during ceremonies, and laid over bowls containing food or symbolic tokens at funeral feasts.

Excerpt from

Roslyn Adele Walker, Ph.D., Senior Curator, The Arts of Africa, the Americas, and the Pacific, The Margaret McDermott Curator of African Art, July 2016