South Sumatra Kroe Ceremonial Cloth (Tampan)
Cotton, hand spun, natural dyes
South Sumatra - Kroe
92 x 69 cm
Early 19th century
Collected South Sumatra 1983
Overall very good for its age but several minor repairs to body, edges showing some damage and natural dyes somewhat faded.
General: Tampan are unique and unusual ritual cloths from the Kroe people living in the Lampung area of South Sumatra. They are created by applying a supplementary weft on a plain cotton weave and coloured using natural dyes. They are generally square in shape.
Tampan cloths were exchanged between Kroe families to consecrate ritual occasions especially those involving major life transitions such as birth, circumcision, courtship, marriage and death. Their use was both spiritual and symbolic but they were also used as wrappings for gifts such as money or food. The ship (a symbol of transition) is a common element in a large number of Tampan. They also commonly exhibit horizontal mirror symmetry, created so that when the cloth is placed over an object as a cover, folded along the horizontal axis, the picture appears correctly oriented in the upward direction on both sides.
Specific: A rectangular highly symbolic Tampan displaying ships, human figures, mythical creatures and other mysterious symbolic and spiritual elements.