Recent Acquisitions at Thomas Murray
Online and by appointment in New York
March 16-22, Park Lane Hotel, 36 Central Park South
New York, NY
Thomas Murray is featuring a multi prong online and in person exhibition for Asia Week NYC 2003 that includes five exceptionally important textiles: Three Indian Trade Cloths of great rarity for the Indonesian Market and two iconic weavings from Lampung, Sumatra – a Double Red Ship Palepai and an early Pasisir Wedding Tampan. Introducing as well in wood are a fine Islamic calligraphic window with a ‘Seal of the Prophet’ inscription; two shamanic works from the indigenous Tao (Yami) People of Orchid Island, off the coast of Taiwan featuring compelling line drawing depictions of their primordial ancestor, Magamaog. We are pleased to present antipodal jewelry offerings from Indonesia: a pair of gold earspools with diamond chips worn by royal Minangkabau women of West Sumatra and two precious and seldom seen gold ornaments from the remote easterly spice islands of Leti and Tanimbar. A private collection of bronze ‘found object’ charms, Thogchas, rounds out our exhibition. They were picked up from the soil of the Tibetan plateau by nomadic herders, who considered them magical ‘fall from sky’ talismans, with many dating 1000 years old or more. Formed over a 40-year period by an artist, this group is being offered as a whole.
India, for the Indonesian Market
Cotton; painted mordant and resist
38 x 203 in / 96.5 x 515 cm
This rare Ramayana Indian trade cloth presents a classic heroic theme of good vs. evil: Rama, assisted by Arjuna, and Hanuman the monkey god, vanquishes Ravana and his demons. The art is vigorous and color exceptionally strong on this cloth, which would have been traded for spice. The subject of a great battle with heads and limbs flying would appeal to both Indonesian urban courts and remote tribal headhunters. See John Guy, Woven Cargoes pp 116-117; Masters of the Cloth TAPI Collection p 20; Yoshimoto for a broken example pp 58-59
Note: We are awaiting updated images. Detail and pre conservation images shown here.
India, for the Indonesian market
Cotton; block printed and painted mordant and resist dye
Late 17th /early 18th Century
40 x 94 in / 102 X 239 cm
This textile is unique, no other examples with this very special iconography are known. The decorative elements include Mughal style flowers and birds in the interior, inspired by 17th C. European botanical prints, and borders featuring mythical lions, large hamsa geese, and charming red and purple elephants.
Coromandel Coast, India, traded to the Toraja region, Sulawesi, Indonesia
Cotton; mordant painting, mordant printing, batik
17th / 18th Century
154 x 52 in / 391 x 132 cm
This extraordinary textile is almost unique, with only one other example known featuring this special iconography. Its pendant is in the collection of the National Gallery of Australia and served as the title page for the major publication, Life, Death and Magic, 2000 Years of Southeast Asian Art. The decorative elements include trees, great leaves, water buffalo ears floating above a pool, and a mysterious pyramid of six circles in a rectangle of buffalo footprints.
Paminggir People, Kalianda District, Lampung, Sumatra
Cotton, metallic wrapped threads, silk; supplementary weft
18th / early 19th Century
31 x 167 in / 79 × 424 cm
Ex Samuel Josefowitz Collection, Switzerland and New York
On loan to the Indianapolis Museum of Art for 30 years
Double Red Ship Palepai are the most iconic of all Indonesian textiles and were extremely important in the Paminggir society. We see great ships, elephants, birds and human figures that have been interpreted as ancestors.
However, this can only be speculated on as the last weavers who understood this rich iconography departed life more than a century ago, leaving no heirs to their knowledge.
Paminggir people, Lampung
Cotton; supplementary weft
Late 15th to early 17th century
15 x 14 in / 38 x 35.5 cm
An exceptionally rare and important pasisir 'coastal' wedding scene, the male with a keris and the female wearing a bridal veil. Although a fragment, it is still one of the finest tampan pasisir I have ever encountered.
Late 19th /Early 20th Century
17.25 x 41 in / 43.8 x 104 cm
In the roundels in the upper left and right:
توجه حيث شئت/ ففإنك منصور
‘Go wherever you wish, for you shall be victorious’
In the middle:
الله وحده لا شريك له محمد عبده ورسول الله
‘God alone, He has no associate. Muhammad is His servant and messenger’
The seal of Prophethood carved in wood. According to some reports, the first legend was found on the Prophet’s back, between his shoulder blades. In Ottoman prayer books, this seal is referred to as the Prophet’s ‘Seal of Prophecy’ (mühr-i nübüvvet) and is frequently depicted with a variation of the first legend on the front and the second legend on the back. An exceptionally rare example of Islamic calligraphy in wood, from a pasisir (coastal) Muslim community, Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo.
Yami / Tao People, Orchid Island / Botel Tobago
19th / early 20th Century
ex Liliane and Michel Durand-Dessert, Paris
Published: Arts de Taïwan, Helene Kamer, Paris 1973, p 15
71 In / 180 cm
Yami is the name given to the Austronesian speaking inhabitants of Orchid Island by a 19th C. anthropologist and is the best known identifier, however Tao (man) is the indigenous preference. Tumuk, also called Tomok, are extremely rare and important architectural elements within the traditional Tao house that feature a depiction of the heroic progenitor of the clan, Magamaog, who taught the Tao boat building and agriculture. The other figures are understood to be ancestors. Tumuk were inherited by the eldest son as familial treasure.
Tao - Yami peoples, Orchid Island, Taiwan
Wood, steel, and rattan
With strap 22.5 in (57cm), the knife and scabbard is 14 in (35.5cm)
A rare ceremonial knife that was used to “kill demons and evil spirits”.
Part of a significant collection of Formosan Aboriginal sculpture and textiles.
Tanimbar, Southeast Maluku, Indonesia
19th Century or earlier
4.5 in / 11.5 cm
This nobleman's gold pendant is well documented in a photograph dating from a century ago by the Missionary Petrus Drabbe (1887-1970)
We recognize the masquette and see the horn was already broken and rejoined with a local repair at the time of the photo.
Leti island, Indonesia
Gold alloy, metal, yarn
19th Century or earlier
2.5 x 2.75 in / 6.35 x 7 cm
This necklace speaks to a brilliant cultural fusion. It combines the Taoist Immortal Shou Lau holding the fungus of longevity and riding his crane mount, taken from a Peranakan bride's headdress, plus a pair of exceptionally rare Leti ancestor figures in classical cubist style suspended from stylized clouds.
Leti is located in the far eastern Maluku Islands of Indonesia where Chinese have maintained a presence for centuries trading porcelain for fat sea cucumbers and spices.
Minangkabau people, West Sumatra, Indonesia
Gold, diamonds, metal
each 3 x 3 in / 7.5 x 7.5 cm
An important pair of heirloom gold ear ornaments worn by women of noble class. The diamonds are rough cut, traded into Sumatra from Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo.
Including Buddhist and Geometric Shapes and Forms
Mixed metals, bronze, iron, copper, leather
1000 BC - 1800 AD
Thogcha are known as 'fall from sky' objects, associated with meteors, comets, thunder and lightning. They are 'found objects' that were at some point in history lost, dropped into the soil of the Tibetan Plateau, only to be discovered hundreds, even thousands of years later by herdsmen, pilgrims, or monks walking upon the land. This private collection features objects that were originally intended as talismans, including a pre-Buddhist Shang dynasty tao tei masquette, Scythian - Ordos style steppes tiger, a Sasanian- type bird in roundel, auspicious eagle Kyung, revered in the ancient Bon religion. There are also first and second diffusion Buddhist votive objects, including a Vajrapani, dorjis, phurbas, and others. Finally, there are many objects perhaps originally mundane, i.e. horse trappings, rings, arrowheads, buttons, buckles, etc. that became enchanted by their unearthing. Collectively they possess properties of magical protection, with a gathering of an odd number thogcha favored for good luck. Thogcha (pronounced toke-cha) offer tangible evidence of the intangible, from the animistic beliefs of the Tibetan nomads to insights about the archeology of the Tibetan Plateau, otherwise never researched due to a religious taboo not to disturb the earth.