Minangkabau Shoulder Cloth (Salendang)

Minangkabau Shoulder Cloth (Salendang)

This shoulder cloth (salendang) was made by Minangkabau weavers out of silk, cotton, 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 cloths, or from the motifs woven into their clothing.

The weaver designed this textile with several very popular Minangkabau motifs. Most striking is the use of the balah kacang (split peanut) motif in combination with the kaluak paku (fern tendril) in the central portion of the shoulder cloth. The split peanut motif is the octagonal shape divided into four equal portions that covers most of this textile. The adat teaching connected to this motif is that one should treat others fairly. Just as a peanut is naturally broken into equal pieces, one should always equally divide things that are to be shared.

The weaver decorated the edges of the “peanuts” with curls, or fern tendrils. This spiral design is connected to adat that reminds a chief of his responsibilities to his children, his sister’s children, and his community.

Circa: 19th century

Origin: Sumatra, Indonesia

Material: Silk, cotton, and gold-wrapped thread

Condition: Good. Some slight fraying and minor damage to lace.

Dimensions: 90" x 28"

Inventory number: TX4285



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