An image of Ceremonial cloth (pua kumbu)


(Indonesia  – )

Ceremonial cloth (pua kumbu)

Other titles:
blanket ('pua')
Not on display
Further information

In Iban society, weaving textiles is a female activity with knowledge and skills passed down from mother to daughter. Weaving well gives women status in society, while headhunting and good fighting abilities confer rank on men. The gods appear in women’s dreams to teach them how to weave and to provide new patterns. The patterns contain supernatural power, rather than the fabric itself. Iban pua (blankets) are made using the warp ikat method, which means dyeing the pattern into the yarns that will be tied to the loom (the warp threads) before beginning the weaving process. Pua are used for a variety of purposes, including as a base for offerings, clothing for special events, coverings for shrines and corpses, decorative wall hangings, a barrier against evil forces, and a cloth to wrap newly acquired heads or newborn children.

Asian Art Department, AGNSW, December 2011

Place of origin
Sarawak, Borneo, Malaysia
Cultural origin
Iban people
20th century
handspun cotton, natural dyes; warp ikat weaving
118.0 x 218.5 cm
Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.

Bequest of Alex Biancardi 2000
Accession number
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