To Rongkong people
Rongkong district, Sulawesi, Indonesia
Ceremonial hanging and shroud
late 19th-early 20th century
cotton, natural dyes
169.0 (h) x 302.0 (w) cm
Acquired through gift and purchase from the Collection of Robert J Holmgren and Anita E Spertus, New York 2000
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Huge Toraja textiles, pori situtu’, literally meaning the ikat cloth which shuts or encloses, were made in the Rongkong district and traded to other Toraja communities where they are integral to funerary rites. The thick, boldly patterned textiles are used to shroud corpses lying in state in the noble family’s house while awaiting mortuary ceremonies which takes months, even years to organise.
The textiles are also used as protective walls to enclose temporary bamboo structures erected to shelter the many guests who travel long distances to attend a funeral. In the northern areas of central Sulawesi they were also worn by women as layered ceremonial skirts. The cloths feature striking abstract designs of lozenges, hook and rhomb forms and interlocking spirals.