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Entwined: the influence of Indian patola and trade cloths on the ritual practices and textile motifs of the Atoin meto people of West Timor

Barrkman, Joanna (2006). Entwined: the influence of Indian patola and trade cloths on the ritual practices and textile motifs of the Atoin meto people of West Timor. Master Thesis, Charles Darwin University.

Document type: Thesis
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Author Barrkman, Joanna
Title Entwined: the influence of Indian patola and trade cloths on the ritual practices and textile motifs of the Atoin meto people of West Timor
Institution Charles Darwin University
Publication Date 2006
Thesis Type Master
Subjects 1905 - Visual Arts and Crafts
Abstract This thesis explores the question of whether Indian patola and trade cloths that entered West Timor influenced either the textile production or the ritual practices of the Atoin meto people. Although the influence of Indian patola and trade cloths has been documented in other regions of eastern Indonesia it has been suggested by scholars that the influence of Indian textiles in West Timor was minimal. Whilst it is known that Indian textiles did enter West Timor, through trade by the Dutch VOC, little is recorded regarding how the Atoin meto people of West Timor embraced and utilised these textiles in their daily lives or rituals. In order to ascertain data in response to this research question a period of fieldwork occurred in north central West Timor, Indonesia. Furthermore, a survey of museum and private collections was also undertaken in order to document the type of Indian patola cloths and trade cloths that entered the region. In synthesising the findings of this fieldwork and survey the theoretical position used is based on Appadurai’s concept of objects having a social life, which is constructed by the culture of the people who engage with and make use of specific objects. Hence, the actual value of any given object is dependent upon the social and cultural values it is attributed with, as opposed to the values inherent in the object. Additional theories that underpin this research include Kopytoff’s notion of inalienable objects that are preserved outside the commodity market of a given culture as well as Weiner and Schneider’s theory on the multiple social, cultural uses of textiles. Three case studies from the Biboki region are presented, each directly informing a response to the research question. Also specific motifs from the region of Biboki are presented as ‘patola-inspired motifs’ and these are then traced as contemporary motifs, indicating the continued influence of patola inspired motifs in Atoin meto textiles.


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