Image: Indonesian Textile E81229B

Indonesian Textile E81229B

Detail of hinggi, a hand-woven ikat blanket from Sumba. It is made with natural dyes and possibly hand-spun thread. The design includes traditional Sumbanese religious elements and motifs influenced by Dutch colonial culture.

In the foreground is the andung or skull tree motif, typical for the head-hunting culture of the region, which symbolizes power and fertility. Above the trees is the Sumbanese hornbill motif, which indicates spiritual guidance.

The horses imply the upper-classes and represent wealth, mobility and male bravado. Horses are believed to escort the soul of a deceased person to the afterlife and are often sacrificed at nobility funerals. The star-like pattern (in a top band) represents the soul in heaven. According to Sumbanese religion, when the soul completes its journey on earth it is converted into dust by Ina Kalada-Ama Kalada (grandmother-grandfather) and transformed into magical rewards for the family of the dead.

The dog and rampant lion motifs are borrowed from the Dutch iconography. The dogs were introduced by the Dutch to the island of Sumba and became known as 'Javanese dogs,' as it was believed that anything new came from the west, in this case Java. The lion (directly above the yellow band) was taken from the Dutch coat of arms and became a recurring motif in Sumbanese textiles. Size: 110 x 51.5cm.


Hinggi – a man’s mantle or shawl. A traditional dress of men in Sumba worn wrapped around the body as part of a pair, one worn across the shoulder and the other tied around the waist.

Ikat – the word, borrowed from the Indonesian language, describes the method of weaving that uses dyed threads to produce coloured patterns, as well as the type of fabric made in this process.


Luisa Garfoot
© Australian Museum

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