|DECORATIVE ARTS OF SUMBA
The Museum voor Volkenkunde (Museum of Ethnology) in Rotterdam is internationally recognized for housing important collections of textiles originating from Indonesia. Several of the first directors of the institute displayed a keen interest in the textile art of the former Netherlands Indies and kept close ties with potential sources. Indonesian culture has always produced rich and varied textiles, and many historical examples are found in the collection of which we are justifiably proud.
In 1964 a recently graduated cultural anthropologist from Columbia University in New York, Marie Jeanne Adams, began studying Sumba in Dutch museums and other institutions. As she devoted much time to the textiles in our museum, it was decided to organize a major exhibition in 1965 based on her expert knowledge before she departed to take up fieldwork on Sumba itself. She was assisted in this endeavour by Alit Djajasoebrata, assistant curator of the Indonesia Department. A small brochure accompanied the exhibit under the same name: `Life and Death on Sumba'. We thank Dr. M.J. Adams, now a renowned specialist in Sumbanese arts, for her graceful permission to reprint here a revised edition of the original text.
Much has changed since 1965, both in Sumba and in its surrounding world, and the time has come to focus on Sumbanese textiles once more. In this publication which we, in cooperation with the Pepin Press, are happy to present, we offer an insight into our splendid Sumba collection. Much remains to be discovered about the background and origins of our objects. It is our sincere hope that in future more aspects of the imaginative Sumbanese art can be revealed through research, and we hope that the illustrations in this book will inspire textile artists on Sumba as well as elsewhere.
Our special thanks go to the Archives of the Reformed Protestant Church in the Netherlands in Leusden, who courteously allowed us to choose freely from their extensive photo archive.
The contribution by Dr. Jill Forshee, who may be considered Dr. Adams' successor in Sumba studies, deserves appreciation. It is through her lively lines that the beautiful textiles and objects, so long kept in the museum vaults, obtain new meaning.
The other contributors to this volume are affiliated to various departments of our museum. I want to thank them and our curator Alit Djajasoebrata, for their contribution to both this publication and the exhibition.
Life and death on Sumba
Marie Jeanne Adams
weaving through the centuries in East Sumba
Alit Djajasoebrata and Linda Hanssen
List of illustrations
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