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This cloth belongs to a special category of open-work textile usually worn as a ceremonial chest wrapper, shoulder cloth or head cloth, and known as tirtanadi, rangrang or bolong-bolong. In addition to being worn as an item of clothing, textiles like this could be used in offerings and rituals, such as to cover the body of a toothfiling candidate, as curtains ‘langse’ for open pavilions or as an underlay ‘tatakan’ for offerings. The open spaces in the cloth create a connection towards the intangible and invisible world ‘niskala’ and thus these cloths are considered to have protective powers, akin to the dualistic energy of the black and white checked cloths known as poleng.
It has been suggested that Balinese weavers began to create these net-like fabrics during the early twentieth century as a response to the Dutch imported techniques of lace making and crochet. Using their existing backstrap looms, weavers adopted a number of methods to space their threads, including by inserting thin palm strips between groups of wefts or using a tapestry technique on a spaced warp by simultaneously using several individual weft threads wound on small flat bobbins or on old playing cards.
This textile features a simple geometric lozenge pattern in earthy colours. It has been woven on light beige warp (vertical) threads which have been left loose at the ends to form the fringes. In the main body there are wide spaces between the warp threads. The weft threads, in shades of beige, light pink, olive and maroon, are added using a tapestry technique where the threads turn back on themselves and create the lozenge shapes, leaving holes where there is a gap in the warp. Supplementary weft technique ‘songket’ has been used to create a pattern in the border fields, which features a repeating cili figure (motif of life and fertility) based on triangles and surrounded by stars.
- Songket - is hand-woven in silk or cotton, combined with gold or silver threads. Inserting the metallic threads between the silk or cotton weft (horizontal) is known as a supplementary weft weaving. The metallic threads stand out against the background cloth to create an impression of embossing, thus songket is broadly classed as brocade – an embossed cloth.