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spacer ONLINE MUSEUM OF INDONESIAN IKAT TEXTILES   CURATOR: PETER TEN HOOPEN  BROWSE FROM:  [RANDOM] [001] [025] [050] [075] [100] [125] [150] [175] [200] [225] [250] [275] [293]

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  • 091 LUANG
    Lawar (sarong). Warp ikat. 1925-1940. Probably Oirata people.
  • 272 LUANG
    Lawar (sarong). Warp ikat. Circa 1950. Unidentified.
  • 279 LUANG
    Lawar (sarong, warp uncut). Warp ikat. Late colonial to 1950. Unidentified.
  • 280 LUANG
    Lawar (sarong, warp uncut). Warp ikat. 1950-1960. Unidentified.


The Luang Islands consist of forested Sermata, the largest of the group; tiny Luang, looking like a moonscape on the ground, but from the air resembling an agate as it lies surrounded by reefs and shallow waters; and flat, uninhabited Kelapa.
       The islands are situated between the Babars and the Letis, and share many of the cultural traits of their neighbours. Curiously, diminutive and largely barren Luang, which has only two villages, has traditionally served as the cultural centre of the Luang and Leti archipelagoes. The region's way-of-life, referred to as its 'umbilical cord' (see Van Engelenhoven), connects it to Luang though tales of ancestry and immigration.
      The island has a fairly busy port and has long been the region's chief trading hub. Much of the economy is based on fishing, but Luang, curiously, also has a history of making ikat sarongs for 'export' to neighbouring islands, a practice it only shares with Ndao where some cloths are made for Roti. Nowadays many of the island's men work abroad in the oil and mining industries. Their remittances are essential for the island's economic survival.

As in many parts of the Indonesian archipelago, headhunting used to be a vital aspect of the island's culture, again, as elsewhere seen as the quintessential token of virility - required to make a man eligible for marriage. De Jonge: "The idea that a man must have killed in order to create new life was also visible during the porka festival. The 'celebration' of the cosmic marriage, namely, went hand in hand with a headhunt carried out in the name of the deity. If successful, as a great hunter he could marry. Heads captured by the warriors were ceremonially brought into the community and these hunting trophies were presented as the source of new life. On Luang, for example, during this festival, a woman pressed the heads to her breast as if they were babies."



As yet there is no monograph on the textiles of Luang, or even of the Southern Moluccas as a group. Please inform us if you know of one published. Interesting articles are Nico de Jonge's Religious Art of Maluku Tenggara, Aone van Engelenhoven's Epithets and Epitomes and Chris de Jong's A Footnote to the History of the Dutch Indies.

Map of Luang (satellite image)

map Luang

©Peter ten Hoopen, 2018. All rights reserved.