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Hood Museum of Art
Dartmouth College
Hanover, NH 03755

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Press Release

Unknown artist, Lampung Province, Sumatra, Indonesia, tapis (woman's sarong), 19th century, cotton with silk embroidery and mica appliqué. Collection of Stephen A. Lister, Hood Museum of Art Board Member, Class of 1963.

Contact: Rachel Tardelli Vermeal
Communications and Public Relations Coordinator
(603) 646-2426


HANOVER, NH— This exhibition and its accompanying book initiate a historical chronicle of tapis from the earliest mention of this textile type to the roles it fulfills in the twenty-first century, laying bare the complex networks of trade and the negotiation of cultural iconographies that have informed the making of this spectacular art.

Located between the two maritime routes connecting East and West Asia, Sumatra, the fabled Isle of Gold was for centuries the source for much of the world’s pepper. In the southern tip of Sumatra, the peoples of Lampung, or “Pepperland,” poured the profits of their trade into ceremonial materials and adornments. The ornate tubular dresses known as tapis were hand-woven from cotton and silk threads, colored with ancestral dye recipes, embellished with gold- and silver-wrapped threads, embroidered with silk or pineapple-fiber threads, and appliquéd with mirrors and mica. These sumptuous garments communicated a family's global contacts, social station, and clan identity.

Guest curated by Dr. Mary-Louise Totton, assistant professor of art history, Frostic School of Art, Western Michigan University, the exhibition combines over fifty tapis from the Stephen A. Lister Collection with contextual archival and contemporary photographs. Dr. Totton will give the opening lecture about tapis on Friday, April 17th in Arthur M. Loew Auditorium. In addition, a round-table discussion on "Cultures of Cloth in Sumatra, Indonesia" will take place on April 18th with Susan Rodgers, College of the Holy Cross; Fiona Kerlogue, Horniman Museum; Miranda Howard and Mary-Louise Totton, Western Michigan University. These three specialists will present on their own research into textile arts and the textile traditions of Indonesia. A discussion of Wearing Wealth and Styling Identity, moderated by Dr. Totton, will follow.

Dr. Totton's text of the same title will be published by the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College and available through the University of Washington Press in spring 2009.

This exhibition was organized by the Hood Museum of Art and is generously supported by the Evelyn A. J. Hall Fund and the William B. Jaffe and Evelyn A. Jaffe Hall Fund.  The exhibition book will available in the museum gallery or upon request by calling (603) 646-2808.

Last Updated: 2/27/09