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Kewatek Nai Rua, Lembata

Item: Sarong, kewatek nai rua, warp ikat, hand spun cotton, vegetable dyes, Lembata

Size: 51 x 57 in (130 x 145 cm), about 660 g

Provenance: Ili Api, Lembata (formerly Lomblen), Indonesia; early to mid 20th Century.

Method: Hand spun cotton, hand woven, natural dyes, warp ikat. The dyes are the indigo plant for blue-black and Morinda citrifolia for red.


A ceremonial tubeskirt kewatek nai rua made in the Ili Api area of Lembata. This is a 2-panel version of a bridewealth cloth. Two mirroring panels are joined together along the ends to create a tube skirt. The ikat bands are presented in undyed cotton on dark blue bands and on a beautifully rich, red-brown terracotta background. The ikat detailing, especially in the large ikat bands, is extraordinary. The textile feels quite heavy.


The traditional textiles of Lembata are highly valued ceremonial pieces. Every textile has its own meaning. They have a geometry, required proportions, colors and motifs. Their art contains ceremonial symbols known as patola and figures of humans as well as those of marine plants and animals. They are considered carriers of cultural identity and heritage. The ikats of Lembata are made from locally grown and hand spun cotton only, and dyed by the weaver with locally gathered dyes. Those cloths are used as wedding gift exchanges and also can be used for burial.

This textile is not used as daily dress, but as part of bridewealth exchange, given in marriage by the bride-givers as a counterpart to the groom’s gifts of elephant tusks. It may also be appropriate dress for special occasions. Though not as well documented as the 3-panel version with uncut warps, this 2-panel tubeskirt, kewatek nai rua, is almost as rare.


One inch hole, small hole, small repair. See image below

Item code txtl1003 - SOLD!