An image of Ceremonial hanging (palepai)

Unknown Artist

Ceremonial hanging (palepai)

Lower Asian gallery
Further information

The ship is a vital symbol associated with the legendary travel of ancestors and the life journeys of individuals. In Sumatra rituals to mark significant events from birth to initiation, marriage and death are accompanied by ship imagery, often in the form of textiles. Large palepai cloths such as this are associated with nobility. Made by women, they were passed down from father to son in high-ranking families.

Here a large elaborate ship carries a fleet of smaller boats as well as two pairs of human ancestor figures atop elephant-like mythological creatures. Also present are bird and tree motifs linking the watery lower world to the upper world of the sky.

Place of origin
Kota Agung, Putihdoh region, Lampung, Sumatra, Indonesia
late 19th century
cotton, plant fibre, metallic strips, natural dyes; supplementary weft weaving, couching
54.0 x 268.0 cm
D G Wilson Bequest Fund 2003
Accession number