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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Tracing Patterns of Textiles in Ancient Java (8th–15th century)

  • Author(s): Sardjono, Sandra
  • Advisor(s): Williams, Joanna
  • Klokke, Marijke
  • et al.

Few attempts have been made to study the numerous textile depictions in Java from the eighth to fifteenth centuries, also known as the Hindu-Buddhist or the Ancient Javanese Period. This thesis seeks for the textiles that inspired these depictions and considers their techniques. It also traces the evolution of particular patterns in Java over time. To do so, I employ close art-historical analysis of works of art and draw supportive materials from archaeology, epigraphy and literature, as well as ethnography.

After the introductory chapter, Chapters One and Two focus each on a different textile pattern: the connected circles and the overlapping circles patterns. These chapters follow the evolution of the patterns with particular interest to search for connections to current textile tradition in Indonesia. A similar approach of inquiry is applied in Chapter Three to a type of short sleeve jacket. Chapter Four investigates the depiction of weavers in Ancient Javanese textual and visual sources.

This study of textile depictions will underscore the global connection between Java and the outside world, particularly China and India, from where many prototypes of the textile images originated. The study will also reveal that these images, in addition to being historical records, were also ornamentations, which the Javanese artists were adept at translating, decontextualizing, and re-contextualizing—as a whole or in part—into the local aesthetic and usage.

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