Ceremonial cloth (tampan)

Pasisir people
19th century
more object details

General Description

Ceremonial cloths known as tampan, or ship cloths, depict a boat, fish and aquatic creatures of the underworld, birds and dragonflies of the upperworld, crewmen, and cargo. On the upper tier of this tampan, a man and a woman dressed in ceremonial garments stand facing each other under a gate on a platform that resembles a barge. The figures to their left and right represent deities in human form who clear the way and sanctify their path. Masts, flags, pennants, courtiers, and entertainers add to the celebratory and festive mood. The ship's cargo—two horses posed like the couple above—symbolizes power and wealth.

For the Pasisir, the ship is a significant model of society and references the marriage of the first ancestors. Once the helmsman or captain boarded the "boat of matrimony," the ship set sail and society came into being.

Excerpt from

Roslyn A. Walker, Label text, 2016.