Arts and Culture
Research into traditional textiles often assumes depiction and symbolism in patterns, which can be read or interpreted. This paper investigates through a linguistic mapping the nomenclature of Palu’e ikat designs, and whether the naming constitutes an iconography. The linguistic data is compared with the patterns, and interpretations of local informants and scholarly ‘readings’. Proto-Austronesian warp (pAW) ikat patterns are used for further comparisons, assessing the relation to this heritage. The Palu’e design nomenclature does not constitute an iconography, but an inventory of important objects, and is generally based on formal resemblance. Fieldwork shows that patterns are not effective containers of meaning or mythologies, because they are open-ended in meaning. Weavers inherit the patterns and the nomenclature is of secondary importance. The evidence from pAW ikat belies a transformative process from more figurative motifs, and Palu’e ikat has developed within this heritage, obscuring the few non-pAW influences.
Keywords: ikat; weaving; nomenclature; design; motifs; Palu’e; proto-Austronesian; warp