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Ceremonial Wall Hanging with "Tree of Life" Motif

Indonesia, late 19th - early 20th century
L.142.0 cm, W.69.0 cm
Embroidery


In both East and West, the tree represents God, the Universe, Life, and Fertility. As a result, tree motifs are frequently depicted on religious implements and ceremonial textiles. This wall hanging from Sumatra, for example, was used in important ceremonies such as weddings. The Tree of Life is depicted springing from a triangular mountain, revealing that the piece received influence from Indian textiles. The blossoming, scrolling plant motif in the border originated in the Middle East, while the use of red woven wool was imported from Europe. Furthermore, the combining of red with black is thought to have come from Chinese culture. The triangular bamboo shoot design, however, is native to Indonesia. This wall hanging is extremely interesting as an illustration of how the influence of the many cultures that traversed Sumatra were synthesized to create integrated artforms.

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