Ceremonial hanging (palepai)

Ship cloth

Indonesian (Sumatran)
Dutch colonial rule
mid-19th century


Object Place: Southern Sumatra (Lampong region), Indonesia

Dimensions

Overall: 73.7 x 382.3 cm (29 x 150 1/2 in.)

Accession Number

1980.172

Medium or Technique

Cotton plain-weave ground with cotton discontinuous supplementary patterning wefts

Not On View

Collections

Asia, Textiles and Fashion Arts

Classifications

Textiles

Long, rectangular cotton cloth with design elements created by discontinuous supplementary weft patterning; primary design is of a pair of red ships with arching bow and stern, hulls decorated with yellow, blue, white spots and medallions, three architectural enclosures or shrines on deck which enclose human figures, leopards and buffalo, a single row of human and animal figures below deck; background motifs include fish and umbrellas.

Palepai, or ship cloths, are ritual textiles which represent a belief in the concept of a “ship of the dead,” that would carry souls away to the afterlife. Palepai were traditionally displayed at rite of passage ceremonies.

Provenance

By 1980, in the collection of the Martin and Ullman Artweave Textile Gallery, New York; purchased from Artweave Gallery by the MFA (Accession date: April 16, 1980)

Credit Line

The William E. Nickerson Fund No. 2