Sacred textile (sarita)
- Sa'dan Toraja peoples
- late 19th–early 20th century
Sarita are very long, narrow cloths in which multiple paired rectangular panels are filled with typical Toraja motifs executed in either a deep brown, indigo blue, or white on a black background. A resist dye technique is used, or motifs are painted directly onto the fabric. This sarita is known as sarita to lamban, “sarita with people crossing a stream.” Sacred designs, farming activities, and village scenes are all connected by the image of flowing water that appears as lines down the center of the cloth. This “river of life” reaffirms notions of continuity and blessings. In one of the sarita’s most poignant details, two figures hold hands while stepping on a stone in the river, signifying that abundance also depends on cooperation and harmony.
Sarita are sacred ceremonial cloths used mostly in Rites of the East, which the Toraja call “Smoke of the Rising Sun” (Aluk Rambu Tuka’). These rituals emphasize the enhancement of life and ensure fertility. The cloths can be worn, hung on poles as banners, or used to tie two converging points in a ritual together.
Roslyn A. Walker, Label text, 2013.