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Object Timeline

1901

  • Work on this object began.

1925

  • Work on this object ended.

2005

  • We acquired this object.

2006

2019

  • You found it!

Sarita (Indonesia), early 20th century

This is a Sarita. It is dated early 20th century and we acquired it in 2005. Its medium is cotton and its technique is indigo dyed with paste resist (probably rice) on plain weave. It is a part of the Textiles department.

Considered to be sacred, these cloths are used in Toraja, Sulawesi, Indonesia in ceremonies and rituals, such as weddings, funerals, and rice festivals: they adorn the tongkonan (the traditional house) and wrap coffins and the heads of effigies. The panel-like layout and geometric motifs imitate the carved wood panels used to decorate these houses. This piece also features the image of a sacred buffalo.

The pattern on this early 20th-century textile was created by applying a resist paste (probably rice paste) before dyeing the piece in indigo. While the Indonesian technique of wax-resist patterning, or batik, is well-known and had become highly commercialized in areas such as Java, the more localized paste-resist traditions have died out completely. The Dutch began to make wax-resist imitations of these pieces for export, but they are less complex in their patterning than the Torajan originals.
This piece would be the second example of a cloth of this type in the museum’s collection. It complements the museum’s collection of Indonesian textiles and enhances the collection of other paste-resist indigo textiles, which includes examples from China, Japan, Africa, and Eastern Europe. Both the ceremonial purpose and the imagery of this piece relate to another Torajan piece in the collection (1984-20-1).

This object was donated by Unknown. It is credited Gift of Anonymous Donor in honor of Thomas Murray.

Its dimensions are

H x W: 440 x 17.1 cm (173 1/4 x 6 3/4 in.)

Cite this object as

Sarita (Indonesia), early 20th century; cotton; H x W: 440 x 17.1 cm (173 1/4 x 6 3/4 in.); Gift of Anonymous Donor in honor of Thomas Murray; 2005-21-1

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://www-6.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18704443/ |title=Sarita (Indonesia), early 20th century |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=13 December 2019 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>