1498

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Sumatran Silk Ceremonial Jacket (Baju) with Gold Brocade

Sumatra, Indonesia
19th century

length: 46cm, width (with arms outstretched): 163cm

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This jacket of purple and yellow silk with gold brocade applique over a calico lining is from Sumatra, Indonesia and probably dates to the 19th century. Possibly it is from Aceh. It might also have been worn be the Minangkabau people who imported silk clothing items from Aceh.

The manner of the gold stitching work is highly suggestive of Arab influence. This is not surprising as there were many trade and diplomatic links between the courts of the Middle East and also the Ottoman empire. The applied gold motifs to the lower section of the front of the jacket also suggest Chinese influence: clearly the motifs are based on stylised dragons.

Such a jacket almost certainly was made for a man, to be worn at his wedding.

A vest with related gold brocade applique work which is attributed to Aceh, before 1878, is illustrated in Brinkgreve & Sulistianingsih (2009, p. 157).

The condition is fine – there are no insect holes and no repairs, but there are some splits across the shoulders to the silk along the crease lines. Also, some of the gold brocade has become unstitched. These age-related matters most likely can be resolved with some minor conservation. :From a Belgium private collection; acquired by the family of the previous owners directly from Sumatra during the 1920s.

References

Brinkgreve F, & R. Sulistianingsih (eds), Sumatra: Crossroads of Cultures, KITLV Press, 2009.

Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia, The Message and the Monsoon: Islamic Art of Southeast Asia, IAMM Publications, 2005.

Leigh, B., Hands of Time: The Crafts of Aceh, Penerbit Djambatan, 1989.

Summerfield, A., & J., Walk in Splendor: Ceremonial Dress and the Minangkabau, UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History, 1999.

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