Minangkabau Shoulder Cloth
This shoulder cloth (salendang) was made by Minangkabau weavers out of silk and gold-wrapped thread. The Minangkabau are a historically matrilineal Muslim society organized in small democratically-run villages in Western Sumatra that are known for their richly symbolic and regionally-specific ceremonial clothing. Since each village is run by democratic consensus, each locality has its own specific rules about what and how ceremonial clothing should be worn. Minangkabau people can therefore usually identify where strangers are from based on the way they wear their skirts, hats, and shoulder clothes, or from the motifs woven into their clothing.
Western Sumatra has rich natural gold deposits and so it is hardly surprising that gold is one of the main decorative elements in much of the ceremonial clothing woven by Minangkabau textile artists. This shoulder cloth is made out of silk and gold wrapped thread. The deep red, black, and bright red silk threads make the floating gold weave appear even more sumptuous, and make the weaver’s designs stand out from the ground textile brilliantly.
The weaver designed this textile with several very popular Minangkabau motifs, including katupek (split palm frond containers for boiling rice), barantai (chain), the tobacco box, and a tree of life.
Circa: early 20th century
Origin: Sumatra, Indonesia
Material: Silk, gold-wrapped thread, and silver-wrapped thread
Dimensions: 76" x 22"
Inventory number: TX4345