Inventory no.: 3823-24

Sumba Warp Ikat Hinggi Textiles


Rare Pair of Warp Ikat Hinggi for a Man

East Sumba, Eastern Indonesia

circa 1940

Textile 1 – 229cm x 102cm; Textile 2 – 217cm x 99cm

This fine pair of warp ikat hinggi textiles is a true pair. They were made as pairs but usually the pairs become separated. Such textiles were made to be worn by men – one would be worn around the waist and the other about the shoulders as a mantle.

Woven from handspun cotton, each is of two panels that have been stitched together, and embroidered at either end with bright cotton strip to prevent the weave from fraying. The predominant colours are various shades of indigo blue and cream. The motifs include roosters and stylised horses in cream but also ‘shadow’ motifs in lighter blue.

A related blue and white

hinggi is illustrated in Adams et al (1999, p. 88-89).

The horse is an important motif in Sumba and evolved to symbolise kingship and power. Horses were first imported to Indonesia from India perhaps as long ago as two thousand years. Horses arrived on Sumba from Java during the late Hindu-Buddhist period. The Sumbanese became skilled horseman and bred a small but sturdy horse known as the Sandlewood Pony. In local mythology, Umbu Walu Sasar, one of the two fraternal first ancestors, descended to Earth from the heavens upon a noble horse (Richter & Carpenter, 2012, p. 119). Possibly, this is depicted in this cloth.

Such textiles were used in formalised gift exchange at important, ritualised ceremonies such as those associated with marriage and death rites. In some villages, such textiles were brought to death ceremonies by guests so that the soul of the dead could take them into the afterworld.

The pair here is in excellent condition and is without repairs.


Adams, M.J. et al., Decorative Arts of Sumba, The Pepin Press, 1999.

Gillow, J.,

Traditional Indonesian Textiles, Thames & Hudson, 1995.

Richter, A., & B. Carpenter,

Gold Jewellery of the Indonesian Archipelago, Editions Didier Millet, 2012.


Acquired in the UK, from the estate collection of Dr George Yuille Caldwell (1924-2016). Dr Caldwell, an English-born physician moved to Singapore in the 1950s, from where he built up a collection of Indonesian textiles and other ethnographica.

Inventory no.: 3823-24


First Textile & Detail:

Second Textile & Detail: