Event Date: 19 March 2014
St James’s Piccadilly,
London W1J 9LL
Lesley Pullen (SOAS) – Textiles of Sumatra: Traditional Cloth from the Island of Gold
Known by early traders as Suwarnadwipa or Island of Gold, the textiles that originate from Sumatra are as varied as those from throughout the entire Indonesian archipelago together. The ancient Austronesian animist roots, the centuries of Hindu-Buddhist culture, and the subsequent domination of Islam all heavily influenced the societies of the coastal regions of Sumatra. Societal structures and sacred beliefs evolved over time and with them the use of textiles, which increasingly developed into symbols of power, wealth and status. As the belief in the scared qualities of the textiles diminished, the need for overt and excessive consumption increased. Costly imported materials in gold, silver and silk from Indian and Chinese sources dominated the Malay court cultures of Sumatra.
This highly illustrated lecture will be followed by a handling session of Sumatra textiles from a private collection.
Born in Medan Sumatra, Lesley has been a Tutor on the Southeast Asian Art module of the SOAS Postgraduate Diploma in Asian Art programme for the past five years. She is also an occasional lecturer on SOAS BA and MA courses, and an independent lecturer. Lesley collects Asian material art, particularly Indonesian textiles, and travels to different parts of Asia frequently. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Indonesian art history at SOAS.