Exhibition dates: 23 October 2014 – 25 January 2015
Opening this week in Lisbon, the Museo do Oriente is holding a historic exhibition of traditional Indonesian ikat textiles. This is the first exhibition in the world dedicated exclusively to the fabulous profusion of Indonesian ikat weaving traditions in a comprehensive fashion. The exhibition presents the weaving arts of the entire Indonesian archipelago, from Sumatra and Borneo to East Timor and beyond, including early twentieth century examples from tiny, remote islands. Woven Languages includes several of the world’s rarest specimens, offering a unique opportunity to see these fragile masterpieces of an ancient art form that is fast dying out.
Of special interest are the Sumatran silk ikat shawls with gold brocade, the sacred Balinese double ikats from Tenganan, colonial period sarongs from the Moluccas, and refined ikat textiles from Los Palos in East Timor, of which less than ten are known to be extant. Perhaps the most spectacular piece is a 4.5m long elephant patola, made in India for Indonesian rajas, one of the best preserved of a dozen known pieces in the world.
A few cloths are on loan from other museums, but the core of the exhibition is formed by the renowned Pusaka Collection of Peter ten Hoopen, author and long-time resident of Portugal, who began his passionate collecting while travelling in Indonesia in the 1970s. The collection is enriched by scholarly documentation that brings to life the people, and notably the women, who made these fascinating textiles.