Kauer Women's Embroidered Baju Jacket
Kauer Women's Embroidered Baju Jacket
Kauer people, early 20th century, Lampung, Sumatra, Indonesia.
Absolutely stunning, cropped and loose fitting womens short jacket (baju) made of plain weave cotton in alternating narrow vertical bands of different shades of indigo blue, rust and ochre. The splendid geometric patterns featured on the jacket reflect ancient Dongson imagery. Lampung is a vast territory that lies below Palembang at the southernmost tip of Sumatra. The term "Lampung" is actually a generic term and refers to three ethnic groups: The Abung (Abung Siwo Mego), a people that inhabited the mountains in the north of the province; The Pubian (Pubian Telu Suku), from the eastern lowlands (when grouped together, are also referred to as Pepadun) and the Paminggir, who lived along the southern coasts (Saibatin group). The three groups consider themselves related to one another.
The women of Lampung developed a rich variety of textiles that included ceremonial forms (tampan, palepai) as well as other types, which were used as clothing (kain tapis sarongs etc.) These meticulously woven (the weaving process is called mattakh) of home spun cotton/silk textiles were decorated with mica, glass, shells, polychrome silk and predominantly metallic gold or silver wrapped threads attached and held in place with decorative stitches on the underside, using a technique called "sasab". Ornamentation exist on a textiles symbolize a form of Lampung public confidence towards the grandeur of nature and the greatness of God. Traditionally using floral motifs, it has numerous variations. The word "pucuk rebung" means bamboo shoot and its elongated triangle is a common motif found in the designs of the Lampung tapis. Other designs may include snakes, elephants, birds, ships, and various mythical creatures. Traditional textile colours came from nature. For red colorant, they used sepang (Caesalpinia sappan), tamarind (Tamarindus indica), areca nut (Areca catechu) and henna (Lawsonia inermis). The turmeric (Curcuma longa) and tamarind (Tamarindus indica) was used for yellow. Rambutan (Nephelium lappaceum) was used to obtain black dye. Durian (Durio zibethnius) was used for brown and indigo (Indigofera tinctoria) and the lanson fruit (Lansium parasiticum) for the blue. To preserve yarn, they used the roots of the fragrant citronella grass (Cymbopogon nardus). Then, to avoid discoloring, they used betel leaves (Piper betle).
The production of fine textiles increased in the late 19th century as Lampung became prosperous due its pepper cultivation and related industry and trade, but the devastating eruption of the Krakatoa volcano in 1883 destroyed many weaving villages, especially in the Kalianda area. In early 20th century continued conversion to Islam decreased the importance of region's traditions. As the result, by the 1920's, the production of high quality Lampung textiles had ground to a halt. The material culture and art history of Lampung's past are only partially understood.
Elaborate jackets like this were worn by young, unmarried Kauer women together with a traditional sarong. Jacket has a centre front opening with no fastenings and is handsewn and fully lined with cream cotton. The long straight sleeves display a wide indigo mid section and the front of the jacket has two indigo panels decorated with embroidered scroll motifs with further decoration of small mirror pieces (cermuk) which have been stitched into place with red thread. Above the indigo panels there is a yoke of red floral cotton decorated with small white shells stitched into place in a starburst pattern. Good condition. Carefully attached with pins into modern frame. Age-related minimal wear. Thread loss, slight tarnishing, small stains and loose threads. Size approx. 54,5cm x 115,0cm (with modern frame).
NB! We don't ship this item. Pick-up from the shop.
Provenance: Finnish private collection
For a similar examples see:
Jacket, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Accession Number: 1983.59 (https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/85703)
Womens jacket, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia, Accession Number: A7966-22 (https://ma.as/195130)
Womans jacket, RISD Museum, Rhode Island, Accession Number: 2003.40.10 (https://risdmuseum.org/art-design/collection/womans-jacket-20034010)
References and further reading:
Textiles of Southeast Asia, Transition, Trade and Transformation, Robyn Maxwell, Australia: Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 113.
Traditional Indonesian Textiles, John Gillow, Thames & Hudson, 1995.
South Sumatran Ship Cloths, Mattiebelle S. Gittinger, The Bulletin of the Needle and Bobbin Club. Vol. 57, 1974, no. 1 & 2
The ship textiles of South Sumatra: functions and design system, Mattiebelle S. Gittinger, Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde, 1976, 132 (2/3): 207–227.
Sumatra, Crossroads of Cultures, Ed by Francine Brinkgreve & Retno Sulistianingsih, KITLV Press, 2009.
Splendid Symbols: Textiles and Tradition in Indonesia, Mattiebelle S. Gittinger, Washington DC: The Textile Museum, 1979, p. 157.
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