Images of cats from the British Museum collection, £9.99
Height: 212.000 cm
Width: 49.000 cm
Trustees of the Christy Fund bought from Mr J. Wenteler
Tenganan Pageringsingan village, Bali,
Around AD 1920
Sacred cloth woven using the double ikat technique
This Balinese sacred cloth or geringsing was produced using the highly complex and time consuming double ikat process, which creates intricate designs on the finished cloth.
The term ikat comes from the Malaysian term mengikat meaning to tie. Before they are dyed and woven into a cloth, sections of thread are tied with raffia wrappings. They are then dipped into the dye. The raffia wrappings are then removed. The pattern is revealed once the threads are woven together.
The double ikat technique means that both the warp threads (the vertical threads) and weft threads (the horizontal threads) are resist dyed in this way.
Geringsing are only made by women from one village in east Bali called Tenganan Pageringsingan. However, they are considered sacred across the whole island.
Cloths like this are used in ceremonies, including female coming of age ceremonies. They are also thought to ward off evil and so form part of some healing ceremonies.
The design on this geringsing shows noble characters from the shadow theatre kneeling around a temple. The cloth has been further embellished with gold thread embroidery.
The age of this piece together with the complex method of its production make it a significant part of the British Museum collection.
W. Warming and M. Gaworski, The World of Indonesian Textiles (1981) pp. 108–114