| Ceremonial textile [mawa or ma'a]

Java, Indonesia
traded to Toraja region, Sulawesi, Indonesia

Ceremonial textile [mawa or ma'a] 19th century
cotton, dyes
87.0 (h) x 345.0 (w) cm
Purchased 1982
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
NGA 1982.2293


The sacred ma’a textiles of the Toraja include both imported and locally made fabrics. While Indian trade fabrics acquired over many centuries before the Dutch colonial era comprise the majority of ma’a, some textiles were imported from Java. Apparently created especially for the Torajan market, this design focuses on the buffalo. The sacrificial beast and symbol of fertility appears as bold horned heads, and corralled with owners who also herd buffalo on horseback. The triangular ends replicate heirloom Indian trade cloths.

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