Skip to content

Collection

All

Search

Asian art

View More:


Title

Weaving shuttle (turak)

19th century


Artists

Unknown Artist


About

Among the Iban of Borneo, the female art of weaving is referred to as ‘kayau indu’ or ‘women’s war’. Just as male prestige is related to prowess in war, female status is determined by weaving skills. Only the most accomplished and spiritually mature women are responsible for the creation of original designs, which are revealed to the weaver by supernatural spirits. Because of the dangers associated with such close contact with the spiritual world, weavers depend on charms and protective imagery to ward off potential harm. Used to pass weft threads through the warp threads of a weaver’s loom, this weaving shuttle or ‘turak’ is incised with powerful symbols encompassed within a dense network of scrolling plant tendrils. While the large headless anthropomorphic figures symbolise fertility and human sacrifice, creatures of the underworld in the form of a crocodile and stylised dragon–dog (‘aso’) heads would have provided protection against malevolent forces.


Details


Place where the work was made

Sarawak Borneo Malaysia


Cultural origin

Iban


Date

19th century


Media category

Woodwork


Materials used

wood


Dimensions

57.0 x 3.8 cm x 3.0 cm


Credit

Christopher Worrall Wilson Bequest 2010


Accession number

544.2010



Shown in 1 exhibition

Exhibition history


  • Glorious, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 27 May 2017–06 Jan 2019


Referenced in 2 publications

Bibliography


Southeast Asian Tribal Art, Nov 1986, Plate 6 (colour illus.) unpaginated.. detail

Ancestral art of the Indonesian archipelago, Sydney, 2017, 53 (colour illus.).