South Sumatra Kroe Ceremonial Cloth (Tampan)
Cotton, hand spun, natural dyes
South Sumatra - Kroe
61 (h) x 61 (w) cm
Collected South Sumatra 1983
Excellent but quite stained from age, no holes or repairs to body, edges slightly damaged
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: An outstanding small square Tampan depicts a sectional view of a ship. It also shows stylised oars to the side and two human figures at its centre. The symbolism illustrated has also been interpreted as possibly that of a bird. The exact meaning and nature of Tampan symbolism, however, has been lost over time.