Sumba Ikat

Private Collection





path title size description weaver village
Kain_016.jpg The Classic Form 200cm x 120cm

We have been collecting Sumbanese Ikats through the 10 years that we have been living here. This is a short introduction both to our collection and to the many types of cloth that you can find on the island.

While many pieces are astounding in their complexity sometimes it is the most simple and classic motifs that appeal.

Famous for extraordinarily fine piece using contemporary adaptations of the very oldest motifs from Kambera, Tana Milla maintains the tradition of classical simple structured forms. His perimeters of horses are a clear signature and this piece is one of our all time favourites.
We hope you enjoy browsing our collection and if you have any comments or queries please feel free to drop us an email visa the link below.

Tana Mila Prailiu
Kain_008.jpg Hand-spun 89.5cm x 266cm

This cloth is made from local Sumbanese hand spun cotton and is traditional both in its fabric and its simple, clear motif.

The Pohon Andung is in the second band and represents, as always, an odd number of skulls.  This represents the life and strength of community who have captured and hung the skulls.

While the outer band depicts mammals or animals which move (in this case the sandalwood horse)  the central band is traditionally made up of growing matter (plants) and centrally sea creatures (called bintang laut: ‘star fish’) to symbolise eternity. 

Tana Mila Prailiu
Kain_013.jpg Prawns and Butterflies 290cm x124cm

No one in Kambera has received more royal commissions or perhaps done more to progress and develop the classic forms than Ama Nai Elki. He not only excelled in balance and design but in the quality of his tying and his use of colour. His pieces are rich and unmistakable.

This piece employs many classic motifs worn by the Maramba class. The crocodiles and turtles symbolise the Maramba themselves, the lobsters show their eternal reign and the central habak pattern leads them into the eternal. The piece is fringed by motifs from the original Indian silks brought to the village. However the richness of colour, the intense compact nature of the design and the use of light and dark tones set it apart.

This piece was the last piece he designed and dyed before he died far far too young. It was finished by his widow to pay for his funeral and stands as a lasting legacy of his great talent.

Ama Nai Elki Prailiu
Kain_020.jpg The Ancestors 129cm x 320cm

This piece is one of the first full length pieces created and shows the continual development of this art form.

The Marapu or ancestors cannot be referred to by name,  Their names are given as hidden names to noble children when the umbilical cord is cut and may never been spoken aloud. This design is an attempt to describe what cannot be spoken

This cloth shows male and female Marapu surrounded by the symbols that are used to identify them.

The tattoos on the legs of these Marapu are still seen on the bodies of some the villagers of Prailiu.

Ama Nai Elki Prailiu
Kain_003.jpg Kaliuda Wunang 240cm x 121 cm

No region better exemplifies Sumbanese motifs than Kaliuda. Kaliuda pieces are the most copied and their stereotyped forms grace many a wall, building and wedding invitation.
Typified by alternating red and black rows the defining characteristic of this region is often erroneously recording as demonstrating alternating rows of chickens (for worship and prophesy) and horses (for negotiating bride price). It is in fact the colour (especially the rich warm reds) and structure not the motif that sets this region's cloth apart.

The individuality of the weaver is shown through the designs on the penultimate band - a sign that also distinguishes the originals from the copies. In this case an impressive band of wunang prepare to negotiate

Unknown Kaliuda
Kain_001.jpg The Modern Kingdom 282cm x 150cm

This is the first piece tied by the son of the renowned weaver Rambu Huka. She is now old and unable to weave as she used to but Pindi, though male, is rapidly building a reputation in his own right as a creative purist.

This piece follows the form and structure of the traditional royal commissions but its crushed lobster making way for a stylised Dutch coat of arms hints at a gentle subversion placing the noble bloodline more in history than in eternity.

Pindi et al. Prailiu
Kain_019.jpg Indigo from Rende 244cm x 54 cm

Rende cloth is perhaps the best marketed ikat from Sumba and regularly graces the walls of shops and hotels in Jakarta and Bali. Rende cloth is distinguished by its use of large dominant motifs in the penultimate bands, evocative of the largess of the village itself with its giant tombs and closed doors. Rende also produces an indigo blue unmatched in Sumba. The peculiar taboos, secrecy, rivalries and the rigourous distinction of roles between the social classes in this village add to the cloth's mystic. These principles are often erroneously prescribed to the rest of the island rendering other regions as wanting but in fact are best understood as characteristic solely of rende ikat.

The rarely seen pieces have a large central expanse of un-dyed fabric in the centre.

This piece, woven by the prolific and renowned Tamu Rambu Ana Motor is indicative of the form

Tamu Rambu Ana Motor Rende
Kain_010.jpg Royal Robes 290cm x 120

This is, put simply, a priceless piece. It was commissioned by the late Tamu Umbu Njakka, King of Lewa Kambera, from Ama nai Elki for ceremonial use.
It was made with not just immense skill but heart and reverence as befitting the commission. Its significance has grown exponentially since both of their deaths in 2008.
It's motifs are precise, balanced and brilliant executed and its colours continue to deepen in vibrancy as each year goes by.
We were given it in 2005 and wear it at all public events as a sign of respect for the now late king.

Ama Nai Elki Prailiu
Kain_009.jpg Tin-Tin in Sumba 284cm x 106cm

There cannot be many people in the world who have an equal love for Sumbanese textiles and Herge's Tin-Tin, but I clearly am one. Commissioned in 2004, David and Pindi took over a year to study, design and create this piece. Its designs are taken predominantly from Flight 714 (when Tin-Tin landed in the Togian Island's in Sulawesi) but include also KIng Ottokar's sceptre, the symbol of Kih-Osh and the quintessential moon rocket.
Brilliantly, this is not only a design of great ability as European cartoons are morphed into the Sumbanese form but it is also a testament to high quality dying techniques. The colours are some of the best found in Kambera. To date I'm not sure is this Sumba's homage to Herge or Tin-Tin's homage to Sumba!

Pindi and David Special Commission
Kain_002.jpg Eternal Arms 252cm x 116cm

Famous for extraordinarily fine piece using contemporary adaptations of the very oldest motifs from Kambera, Tana Milla maintains the tradition of classical simple structured forms. His perimeters of horses are a clear signature.
The Dutch coat of Arms has been stylised and morphed into this finely woven cloth reminiscent of early 20th century forms.

Tana Milla Prailiu
Kain_006.jpg Symbols for Posterity 306cm x 144cm

Much of Sumbanese ritual speech is expressed in pairs of nouns. Especially when it relates to social class refers to people for whom it is impolite to express their name directly.

This piece depicts many of the object pairs.

Sun and moon: Eternal Reign of the Kings
Crocodile and Turtle: The Maramba or noble class.

Chicken and ducks: The people whom they protect.

Additionally the buffalos and horses killed at noble funerals, the large and small gongs to announce their death, the wunang who speak on their behalf and the pigs killed to prepare food for all who attend all take a place on this cloth.

Tunggu Mila Ara Prailiu
Kain_004.jpg Patola Flowers 284cm x 130cm

The social structure in East Sumba is based around three ancient classes: Maramba or high chieftain class, Kabihu or clans-people and the Ata or servant class who have direct allegiance to the Maramba. To serve colonial interests many of the Maramba where called Kings and presented with silks and gold as emblems of their newly presented titles.
The Maramba were also the first group to trade with any visitors who came to the Island. As a consequence many of the noble families have silks brought to them from India which they hold with great pride and reverence.
The motifs from these silks populate many contemporary designs and are produced only by people with access to the original silks. This piece is flamboyantly typical of such.

David Kahwura Prailiu
Kain_007.jpg Journey to Sumba 308cm x 127cm

No one knows how the SUmbanese arrived on this Island. Two creation myths respectively suggest that they crossed a land bridge from Ende to Tanjung Sasar or descended a ladder from heaven to the island.
They are interestingly a Island people who have little to do with the sea and very few will ever venture towards it for any reason preferring instead to work the land.

This piece controversially suggests they may have arrived here by boat,

Banju Prailiu
Kain_017.jpg Indigo Sash 232cm x 74 cm

A strong decorative sash with a brilliant indigo central panel and combination borders employing supplementary warp. Complex but elegant. intricate but clean this is a striking and impressive piece.

Hungurami Prailiu
Kain_005.jpg Kaliuda Butterflies 242cm x 121cm

Another stunning Kaliuda piece. As always typified by the repeating black and red stripes. Horses and Chickens take their established places this time intersected with Butterflies and Doves.

Kain_012.jpg Knights in Arms 280cm x 124cm

Borrowing heavily from the heraldry of the Dutch and from motifs found on coins, this full length design is imaginative and adaptive. It represents a development of both form and motif and succeeds through its experimentation to entice.

Banju Prailiu
Kain_014.jpg Patola Ratu 292cm x 139cm

This piece was commissioned by my wife in advance of our marriage and represents 'her' motif in as much as personal attribution is possible in this form. The Patola Ratu motifs from the original Indian silks held in her home dominate the design. It is ambitiously one directional demanding a immense amount of work from the weaver. The expected crocodile and turtles beneath a row of lobsters frame the piece but the sea creatures are given life and moved down a row to make way for the dominant Patola.

Palla Ndaku Ramba Prailiu
Kain_018.jpg Patola Sash 234cm x 35 cm

A sash created as part of the Patola commission to complement the larger piece.

Palla Ndaku Ramba Prailiu
Kain_015.jpg Wunang 260cm x 139cm

The Wunang are the emissaries, the spokespeople, the barristers, the holders of ritual speech, the negotiators and the experts at traditional law. This is a full length piece, inspired by images from North America, dedicated to them.

Huki Kilimandang Prailiu