This superb songket of red and green silk has been richly and particularly finely woven with gold thread in floral motifs.
The goldwork is unusually fine, indicating that this songket would have been worn by a lady of particularly high status.
Such a songket with the central panel left unadorned is said to have been worn by widows who were past their mourning period and were now ready to remarry. The wearing of a brightly coloured songket with gold highlights indicated to potential suitors the woman’s availability for marriage. Such a songket would have been worn as a shawl or shoulder cloth and was known as a selendang janda pengatim.
Vanderstraete (2012, p. 395) suggests that the combined use of red and gold could be related to the Islamicisation of the region.
Related examples are illustrated in McIntosh (2012, p. 207) and Vanderstraete (2012, p. 395).
The textile here was made in the Palembang region of East Sumatra. Such cloths were used locally and exported to the rest of the Malay world.
It has minor, professional restorations and some further small holes but otherwise is in fine condition.
Brinkgreve, F., & D.J. Stuart-Fox (eds), Living with Indonesian Art: The Frits Liefkes Collection, Rijksmuseum Volkenkunde, 2013.
Maxwell, R., Sari to Sarong: Five Hundred Years of Indians and Indonesian Textile Exchange, NGA, 2003.
McIntosh, L.S., Art of Southeast Asian Textiles: The Tilleke & Gibbons Collection, Serindia Publications, 2012.
Vanderstraete, A., Magie van de Vrouw: Weefsels en Sieraden uit de Gordel van Smaragd (The Magic of Women), Wereldmuseum, 2012.