Noble Virtuosity: Hidden Asymmetry in Ikat from Sumba (Hardcover)

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Noble Virtuosity: Hidden Asymmetry in Ikat from Sumba By Peter ten Hoopen Cover Image


An examination of the surprising asymmetry hidden in the work of Sumbanese weavers.

In this new study, Peter ten Hoopen reveals levels of virtuosity in the work of Sumbanese textile artists that remained overlooked for over a century of Indonesian textile research. Their richly decorated men’s wraps, hinggi, have commonly been described as symmetric along both axes. But as ten Hoopen’s investigation at Leiden University uncovered, this supposed canon only survived because crucial design elements were overlooked. Sumba’s noble weavers managed to create asymmetry by hiding tiny visual elements that disrupted symmetry and were made to be overlooked. This virtuosity was a product of Sumba’s competitive culture, suffused by an ancient headhunting ethos and marked by secrecy. Ten Hoopen’s findings reveal not just the Sumbanese dyers’ talent, but also their playfulness and the element of “flow” that inspired their work. This ode to the Sumbanese weavers’ ingenuity aims to create a new global class of initiates and to inspire even greater admiration for their art.

About the Author

Peter ten Hoopen began collecting and studying Indonesian ikat in the late 1970s. He has curated two exhibitions of his textiles in Europe and one in Hong Kong, and published five books on the subject, including Ikat Textiles of the Indonesian Archipelago.

Product Details
ISBN: 9789887470847
ISBN-10: 9887470848
Publisher: HKU Museum and Art Gallery
Publication Date: December 4th, 2024
Pages: 256
Language: English