Only clan leaders and people of high social status were allowed to own and display palepai, a long and narrow ceremonial hanging. They were only made in the Kroe region around Lake Ranau by Paminggir women. These woven cloths were displayed during life-cycle ceremonies such as initiation into adulthood, marriage, birth, and death.
The ship imagery seen on this piece was referred to as the “ship of the dead,” the human figures being souls carried to the afterlife. Eventually researchers came to the conclusion that the ship is a more general nod to change and safe passage to the next stage of life. There are also buffalos, building structures (the “house of the ancestors”) and smaller ships. The ends of the boat reach out in multiple branches, creating the tree of life motif.
A polychromatic supplementary weft was applied to plain weave cotton to create these large cloths. This piece is mounted.
Circa: 19th c
Origin: Sumatra, Indonesia
Condition: outer border repair on bottom right, delicate but stabilized condition, Mounted
Dimensions: 98.5" x 30.5"
Inventory number: TX5024