We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.


Ceremonial hanging (palepai)

late 19th century


Unknown Artist

Alternate image of Ceremonial hanging (palepai) by
Alternate image of Ceremonial hanging (palepai) by
  • Details

    Place where the work was made
    Kota Agung Putihdoh region Lampung Sumatra Indonesia
    late 19th century
    Media category
    Materials used
    cotton, plant fibre, metallic strips, natural dyes; supplementary weft weaving, couching
    54.0 x 268.0 cm
    D G Wilson Bequest Fund 2003
    Not on display
    Accession number

    Reproduction requests

  • About

    The ship is a vital symbol associated with the legendary travel of ancestors and the life journeys of individuals. In Sumatra rituals to mark significant events from birth to initiation, marriage and death are accompanied by ship imagery, often in the form of textiles. Large palepai cloths such as this are associated with nobility. Made by women, they were passed down from father to son in high-ranking families.

    Here a large elaborate ship carries a fleet of smaller boats as well as two pairs of human ancestor figures atop elephant-like mythological creatures. Also present are bird and tree motifs linking the watery lower world to the upper world of the sky.

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 3 exhibitions

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 3 publications

    • Jackie Menzies (Editor), The Asian Collections Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 2003, 345 (colour illus.). The colour illus. below on page 345 is a detail of this work.

    • Susan Scollay, Hali, 'The Art of Half the World', pg. 110-111, Mar 2004-Apr 2004, 110 (colour illus.), 111. no.3

    • Jane Somerville, Look, 'All the Gallery's objects', pg. 10-11, Sydney, Apr 2006, 10 (colour illus.). The colour illus. on pg.10 is a detail of this work.