A Lampung tapis from the Lampung province of Sumatra. Late 19th or early 20th Century. This piece measures 48” x 46” if the side seam is opened. The tapis was once considered a valuable commodity and often traded for gold and silver. It was worn by women as a symbol of wealth and status related to their husband or family.
They took months to make. This one with a flower design was likely for the wife of a high-ranking chief. It is large and richly embroidered on a hand-dyed indigo and cinnabar ground with a bold pattern in gold wrapped thread with bits of mirror. There is a text on one hem which is illegible but may have been in the Sungkai dialect. Often the text was poetry.
Tapis are recognized as one of the most notable achievements of Indonesian textile arts. The good ones are increasingly rare.