Sa'dan Toraja people
Sa'dan Toraja district, Sulawesi, Indonesia
Ceremonial loincloth and banner
late 19th-early 20th century
538.0 (h) x 45.0 (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
The ends of the long pio uki ceremonial cloths often feature agricultural scenes of wealth and prosperity, showing house or granary, buffalo and plough, horse, dog and domestic fowl. Some rare examples show beaded kandauré and heirloom headdresses, items of wealth associated with noble families. The other ends are composed of geometric forms reminiscent of patterns on the Indian textiles valued as sacred heirlooms by the Toraja. Such patterns also decorate the surfaces of houses and granaries, and the elaborate sarcophagi created for Toraja funerals.
The hangings follow the same format as ancient loincloths [pio] with undecorated centres and intricately worked ends, falling in front and behind the wearer. The term uki’ (or ukir), to carve, acknowledges the similarity between patterns on textiles woven by women and the sculptures created by men.