Minangkabau Shoulder Cloth (Salendang)
This shoulder cloth (salendang) was made by Minangkabau weavers out of cotton and silk. 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.
Much of the ceremonial clothing the Minangkabau make for themselves is highly embellished with gold-wrapped thread, especially the salendang. This shoulder cloth is therefore striking among the rest of Sarajo’s collection of salendang for the absence of gold decoration on it. This may be evidence of a variety of factors in the life of this object.
After World War II, Minangkabau weavers began making lighter shoulder cloths out of narrower fabric and less gold-wrapped thread. These changes have made the new salendang more comfortable to wear in Sumatra’s tropical climate. This shoulder cloth is certainly lighter and embellished with less gold-wrapped thread than others in the collection, but it is not significantly narrower than the others. It seems more likely, therefore, that this shoulder cloth was made before post-War fashions changed either by someone who could only afford a shoulder cloth with minor gold embellishment, or by someone in a region like Limo Puluah Koto where weavers often used less gold decoration on their salendang.
Circa: Early 20th century
Origin: Sumatra , indonesia
Material: Cotton, silk, and gold-wrapped thread
Condition: Good. A few pinholes from use and spots of minor fraying.
Dimensions: 85" x 27"
Inventory number: TX4525