Woman's ceremonial skirt (tapis)
- Abung peoples
- Late 19th century
Called tapis raja medali, or "king's medallion skirt," this resplendent skirt for an aristocratic woman features embroidered antiquated and contemporary figurative motifs. Enlivened with lustrous gold threads, festive scenes are depicted on two of the horizontal bands: mythical dragons (or buffaloes); equestrians; birds in trees; tables set with flowers and European-style chairs; and humans, some wearing Dutch caps of colonial authority. The other two bands depict paddle wheel boats oriented in opposite directions, leaving with valuable cargoes of Sumatran produce and coming in with foreign trade goods. Between each boat are a ladder and lamp with red harbor lights to beckon and guide the oceangoing vessels.
The raised designs were realized by laying thickly wrapped gold thread on top of the cloth and tacking it into place with plain thread using a couching stitch.
Roslyn Adele Walker, Label text, 2016.