Ceremonial Skirt from Sumba
Handsomely embellished with ‘nassa’ shells and beads on both sides, this type of skirt (‘lau hada’) was worn by noblewomen for sacred ceremonies. In past times, these were buried with the dead, so few old ones survive. We think this is more recent as it is not made of handspun cotton (tho commercial cotton threads have been available on Sumba for much of the 20th century), and the color is probably not from natural dyes. The imagery is quite powerful: a figure, probably representing an ancestor, is flanked by centipedes and seahorses, with a scorpion threatening the genitalia. On the other side a dragon shows Chinese influence, and is surrounded by a bird, scorpions, and a seahorse. It is made of two panels sewn together and seamed on one side. Condition is excellent, tho a bit faded. A similar one is included in the collection of the Museum Nasional in Jakarta. This makes a great display piece with each side decorated with different imagery.
Size: 47 in wide if opened x 42.5 in. high