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Fowler at UCLA: Timor Weavings

As part of the 50th anniversary celebrations of the Fowler Museum at UCLA, Los Angeles, a series of three world textile exhibitions are on show there this autumn. Textiles of Timor, Island in the Woven Sea opens 7 September 2014 until 4 January 2015.

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Horse blanket; Makasae peoples, Baucau District, Timor-Leste, early 20th century; Cotton; warp ikat, supplementary warp; 145 x 50 cm; five panels; Fowler Museum at UCLA, X2002.37.219; gift of E.M. Bakwin

This is the first major exhibition to focus on the rich textile arts of the Southeast Asian island and will contain fifty intricately patterned cloths, many of which are from the Fowler Museum collection. Timor has had an extremely violent and troubled colonial history of political division with the halves of the island promoting two separate identities – now the Indonesian West Timor and the new nation of Timor-Leste (formerly Portuguese East Timor). This exhibition draws on new field research to highlight shared themes that are important to the diverse cultural groups on both sides of the border.

The exhibition title is derived from an origin myth told in Viqueque, Timor-Leste ,of a sacred Queen who weaves the sea on her loom. She throws her shuttle into the water in rage when her child misbehaves, and the rip that it creates in the woven ocean becomes the island of Timor. This story serves as an inspiration to explore the importance and legacy of textiles in Timorese society.

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Man’s cloth; Fataluku peoples, Moro, Lautém District, Timor-Leste, possibly early twentieth century; Cotton; supplementary warp; 230 x 70 cm. fowler museum at ucla x2002.34.25; gift of E.M Bakwin

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Woman’s tube skirt, tais; Atoin Meto peoples, Nurobo, Malaka Regency, West Timor, before 1942; Cotton, silk; warp ikat, supplementary-weft wrapping; 71.45 x 63.5 cm. Dallas Art Museum 1983.106

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Woman’s tube skirt, tais sui, Tetun peoples, presumed Besikama region, Malaka Regency, West Timor; early to mid-20th century; Cotton; supplementary- weft wrapping, warp float, supplementary weft; 61 x 146 cm. Honolulu Museum of Art, 9812.1

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