-Insular and Interwoven
A review by Sarah Corbett
Publisher : Sidestone Press
Title : Ikat from Timor and it’s Outer Islands.
Insular and Interwoven.
Author : Peter Ten Hoopen
ISBN : 978-94-6428-012-8
This book is a scholarly examination in great depth and detail focussing on the Ikat textiles of Timor and it’s outer islands. It is clearly an exceptional piece of work, I have huge respect for the depth of understanding and research which has made this important book possible.
This publication is set apart by its rich insights and historical teachings, it offers a window to the creative processes and design choices of the weavers of the region. We are in some way invited to sit beside the weaver and have a privileged viewpoint into their thoughts and choices.
This proximity to understanding the human interactions including, trade routes, time, place, culture, materials, techniques, designs and symbols is truly enlightening to the reader.
The delicate intricacies of these designs were missed by scholars for many years; however Peter Ten Hoopen reveals wonders which have remained for many years hidden in plain sight.
By questioning why the artists used asymmetrical aspects in some of the Timorese designs and the ways in which this is an intense and highly technical addition to the work load when compared to symmetrical designs the author takes us on a journey which explores the finesse of the seven distinct styles of asymmetrical Ikat design in this region.
These designs reveal hidden coded symbolic messages which display the playful and simultaneously brilliant minds of the women who wove them.
The intricacies of the weavings and their stories are augmented by astonishing and plentiful photographs which explore yarns, styles of weaving and the ways these yarns and styles spread geographically. 21 distinct weave types are identified and defined, a number far exceeding expectation. These styles were found to be used across 41 ikat weaving regions in the Indonesian archipelago.
The network of historical contact which led to diverse symbols within the designs especially interested me; for example the double headed eagle and it’s connection to Dutch Traders and the Marie Therese Thaler.
This highly detailed account by Peter Ten Hoopen elevates the understanding of these amazing textiles and recognises them as technical and brilliant cultural masterpieces.
Ten Hoopen’s credo became ‘collect the culture, not the piece’. In his view, when faced with collapsing traditions, the most crucial part of conservation is not the preservation of emblematic examples, however imperative, but rather the preservation of knowledge, which is so much more perishable than objects.
If your interest in textiles and the people who created them is greater than the initial appearance of those textiles you will adore this book.
You can order your copy here.
Until November 1st 2022 Ethnic Jewels Magazine readers can claim a 20% discount.
Simply click on an ordering option for printed book, be it paperback or hardbound, and enter the discount code IKAT4022.
Dr. Peter ten Hoopen began collecting ikat textiles from the Indonesian archipelago in the late-1970s, first attracted by their shimmering, unsteady patterns suggestive of altered states, and the almost superhuman complexity of the dyeing and weaving process. This awakening of interest fortuitously coincided with the ‘golden age’ of ikat research which generated several of the field’s inspiring classics – and with opportunities to travel to ikat-producing islands. Becoming aware of the astounding diversity of regional styles, and of the precipitous decline of ikat as a vital aspect of the islands’ cultures, in 1980 he began work on a collection that eventually would encompass the entire archipelago: fifty different ikat weaving regions, each with their own particular style and cultural role.
Ten Hoopen’s credo became ‘collect the culture, not the piece’. In his view, when faced with collapsing traditions, the most crucial part of conservation is not the preservation of emblematic examples, however imperative, but rather the preservation of knowledge, which is so much more perishable than objects. He documented his textiles with an intense level of detail, sharing this crucial information through his Pusaka Collection website (www.ikat.us), the premier on-line reference tool for the subject, organizing exhibitions at Lisbon’s Museu do Oriente and Hong Kong University Museum and Art Gallery and writing their catalogs, including his magnum opus, Ikat Textiles of the Indonesian Archipelago, the first reference work on the subject.
. Woven Languages, Museu do Oriente, Lisbon, 2014-2015
. Fibres of Life, Museum and Art Gallery, the University of Hong Kong, 2017
. Timor: Totems and Tokens, Museu do Oriente, Lisbon, 2019-2020
. Woven Languages, Fundação Oriente, 2014
. Ikat Textiles of the Indonesian Archipelago, Museum and Art Gallery, the University of Hong Kong, 2018
. Timor: Totems and Tokens, Fundação Oriente, 2019 (editor)
. Ikat from Timor and its Outer Islands: Insular and Interwoven, Sidestone Press, 2022
. Upcoming: Noble Virtuosity: Hidden Keys in Sumba Ikat, Museum and Art Gallery, the University of Hong Kong, 2023