Ceremonial skirt (tapis)

Paminggir peoples
19th century
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General Description

This opened tubular skirt (tapis) combines a rich mixture of colors, foreign and local materials, and an opulent embroidered and appliqué center panel. It would have been worn by an aristocratic woman as a marriage skirt, or donned during dances and important ceremonial functions.

The center panel is divided into four sections. Each is dominated by a stylized tree of life. Branches support fruit, monkeys, humans, hornbills and other birds, and various upper world symbols. Below two of the trees are underworld serpents (naga). Under the root structure of the other trees are human figures. These figures most likely represent the tradition in pre-Islamic times of stabilizing an important ceremonial event with human sacrifice (irau). Here, the tree of life enshrines age-old Indonesian notions of fertility, generational continuity, and the blessing of the ancestors.

Excerpt from

Roslyn Walker, Label text, 2013.

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