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Tracing Patterns of Textiles in Ancient Java (8th-15th Century)


Tracing Patterns of Textiles in Ancient Java (8th-15th Century)

With Sandra Sardjono, PhD Candidate, History of Art, UC Berkeley Saturday, October 10th, 2015, 10 a.m. Koret Auditorium, de Young Museum

From the past to the present, textile art is one of the most important cultural expressions throughout the Indonesian archipelago. There is, however, a virtual absence of physical evidence of textiles prior to the 16th century. But despite this lack of material evidence, a plethora of textile depictions are carved on stone and metal statues as well as temple reliefs. These include images of banners, pillows, throne covers, wall hangings, and clothing; some are embellished with patterns, others blank. Of any carved images, the most prevalent by far falls into the category of clothing.

This lecture will take us on a journey to Indonesia’s Hindu-Buddhist period through the story of textiles and clothing. First, we will look at images of different types of clothing and see how they were used to mark differences in social status. Then, we will turn to contemporaneous poetries and other writings where we will discover that the function of clothing went beyond mere “social skin.” For example, clothing and textiles were used as currency and gifts and were attributed with magical qualities. They were also used to create sacred spaces and certain colors were designed to elicit specific moods. At the end of the lecture, we will arrive at the vantage point where we can look to the past and appreciate the sophisticated ancient culture of the Javanese with regard to textile art.

Sandra Sardjono is a PhD candidate at the University of California, Berkeley. For the past three years, she has been a visiting scholar at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands. She was previously assistant curator of costume and textiles at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and textile conservator at the Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York.


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