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18th C. Indonesian Wood Rollers for Patterning Textiles

Southeast Asia, Indonesia, ca. 18th century CE. A pair of hand-carved wooden rollers for use in patterning textiles. Each has relief registers of repeated motifs. One has a register of people kneeling to pray, a register of people seated with their hands clasped in front of them, a register of sea-shells, and two others that are abstract forms; the other has registers of scorpions, quadrupeds (cows or dogs?), and abstract figures. These were used to create resist-dyed imagery on fabrics. Size of largest: 15" L x 1.65" W (38.1 cm x 4.2 cm); height on stand: 7.85" (19.9 cm)

In the late 18th century and early 19th century in Indonesia, cylindrical wooden blocks would be dipped into a box of color, then rotated over the fabric to be dyed. The fabric was pulled through a pressure cylinder to keep it stable as the patterns were pressed onto it. This technique was not used long, because the wooden cylinders tended to warp and did not produce the fullness of color that hand blocking with stamps did. Although this was a failed technology, the artifacts from it are aesthetically beautiful!

Condition: Wood has fantastic dark patina, with some small losses to the patterns from use.

Provenance: private Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA collection

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