By Jill Forshee
Textiles have lengthy been critical to the social existence and cosmology of the folks of East Sumba, Indonesia. In contemporary many years, the Sumbanese have entered a bigger international financial system as their textiles have joined the commodity stream of a world "ethnic arts" industry, motivated by way of Indonesia's vacationer exchange. As Sumba's villagers reply to an immensely improved trade of their fabric, tensions and ironies emerge among historic and cutting edge kinds in either textile and lives. utilizing a story strategy, Jill Forshee takes readers into various lives, together with these of villagers touring to Bali and travelers traveling Sumba, and follows their adventures alongside a number of routes over the years. via own tales of these serious about the modern construction and alternate of neighborhood textile, a brilliant account emerges of the interior workings of a so-called "traditional" society and its arts responding inventively to many years of foreign accumulating. those tales extend anthropological thoughts of the obstacles of areas and the certainties of cultures in ways in which are tangible and quick to the reader. in addition, the e-book illuminates a few previously unexplored stipulations of creative provenance.
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Additional info for Between the Folds: Stories of Cloth, Lives, and Travels from Sumba
Tensions between people and perplexities of life play out in a shuttling between worlds most differentially marked by gender. There is poten- 23 FABRICSCAPES 24 tial power in mobility, in securing or altering one’s place in the world by extending influence within it. Yet there is also power in resisting unwanted shifts in location and controlling limits that others might not violate. Adventure threatens to bring pollution or destruction, and human mobility challenges the stability of social life in Sumba.
These patterns often resemble simplified abstractions of flowers (habaku) or butterflies (karihu) defined by lines and dots. Many people refer to such forms —which often appear in the central sections of hinggi, perhaps as counterbalances or mediations to newer designs within the cloths—as the most ancient symbols of local powers. An ancient image in Sumbanese fabrics involves a front-facing human figure (tau). Similar figures appear in cloth across Indonesia, and some researchers have considered these as Figure 10.
Such ideas of place persist with many villagers; yet as people increasingly move about the island by way of public transport, travel away from Sumba, or encounter foreigners, their “grids” become less consistent. 15 Nonetheless, there is tenacious conviction among people in East Sumba in the powers of specifically local spirits and natural omens, as well as ubiquitous fear of malign magic (mamarung) inflicted by mortals. Insidiously afflicting people’s lives, such human spells are often borne by liquids and powders.