Image: Indian palampore collected in Bali E074262

Indian palampore collected in Bali E074262

This painting depicts two large flowering trees, a design often called the ‘tree of life’. The textile type is known as a palampore and originates from India’s historic region of Coromandel, the southeastern coast of the Indian peninsula. Such textiles were made for trade using special dye-settings and painting technique. In this method the selected parts of the design were dyed one by one in different colours, using a substance called mordant as the dye setting agent. Although little is known about the importation of such textiles, Professor Anthony Forge saw several of them during his fieldwork in Bali in the 1970s.

According to Forge this textile was used in a small Wesia family temple. Wesia is one of the four castes in Bali. The Brahmana is the highest caste that provides the high priests, pedanda, who make water holy. The Ksatriya are the princely caste from which many of the rulers come. The Wesia, in theory, are traders, but often provided warriors and rulers for the states of Bali. These three castes are collectively known as tri wangsa. They include about 5-10 percent of the population. The rest of the people belong to Sudra.

This textile was collected by Forge in 1972-73 from a temple in Satria, Klungkung, Bali. Size: 172 x 255cm

Reference: Maxwell, Robyn (2003) Sari to sarong: five hundred years of Indian and Indonesian textile exchange. National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.

Emma Furno
© Australian Museum

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