Brian Stephenson Fine Art

Indonesian Tribal Art
Toraja Seko Mandi

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South Sulawesi Toraja warp ikat shroud or wall hanging (Seko Mandi)


Item-Description:South Sulawesi Toraja warp ikat shroud or wall hanging (Seko Mandi)
Medium:Hand spun cotton, natural dyes
Origin:Sulawesi (Celebes) - Toraja
Dimensions:142 x 136 cm
Age:Early 20th century
Provenance:Collected Sulawesi 1983
Notes:General: South Sulawesi Toraja funeral shrouds or Seko Mandi are easily distinguished by their characteristic densely packed elaborate repeated geometry of interlocking key, hook and lozenge motifs. This pattern, called sekong, is generally considered to be anthropomorphic in form, representing a group of ancestor figures that will either accompany the dead as they journey to the afterlife or be there to receive the dead on their arrival. Woven with coarse hand spun cotton they tend to be of large size with dominant red (morinda) grounds with their geometric elements picked out in blue, white or black. They are dramatic cloths of strong contrast and most commonly comprise two panels sewn together centrally along the longitudinal warp axis to create a mirror image effect. Their principal use is as funeral shrouds, to wrap the deceased or to cover the coffin, but today they also have other economic and ritual uses, for example as part of the bride price, hangings demarking an area for the performance of sacred rites etc.

Specific: This cloth is a typical warp ikat Seko Mandi or funeral shroud from the Toraja of South Sulawesi. It is made from coarse handspun cotton and dyed using natural dyes, principally morinda and black on the natural cotton ecru. In this cloth the Sekong motif is coarse, displaying a series of interlocking hooks with the ends turned inwards, probably signifying arms and feet curled inward when the ancestors are confronted. The cloth is edged with a series of black crosses outlined in ecru.

Price: £1,150