Linda Hendrickson
Tablet Weaving and Ply-Splitting Books, Tools & Kits

A band from Sumatra and a tablet-woven reproduction by Linda Hendrickson

[my tablet-woven reproduction of the band from Sumatra] WIDTH=146 HEIGHT=804 HSPACE=10><BR>

The band on the left was purchased by Martha Banyas in 1996 in Balige, a town on the southern shoreline of Lake Toba, Sumatra.  A label with the band when I received it (a gift from Sarah Auker) read
I asked Sandra Niessen, a member of WARP (Weave a Real Peace), to have a look at a photo of this band -- Sandra has worked with Indonesian textiles as an anthropologist for over 15 years. Sandra sent me an article she had written for the Dutch magazine Handwerken zonder grenzen,titled "Sirat", March 1985. In this article, she describes the traditional way such textiles are made. "Sirat" is a narrow border in which yarns of different colors are twined around the fringes of cloth. Two strands of weft yarn are tensioned by being wrapped around the right big toe, and a tool called a "dopir" is used to twine the yarns around the fringe. A description in English can be found in To Speak with Cloth: Studies in Indonesian Textiles (Mattiebelle Gittinger, Editor, Museum of Cultural History, UCLA, 1989), at the end of the article "Batak Bags in Weft Twining" by Rita Bolland, on page 223.

At this time, we don't know how this separate band was made. It might have been tablet-woven, though another possibility that has been suggested is a pick-up technique using reserved sheds. The structure is two-strand warp-twining with floats. The floats are almost always over two picks. The band is loosely-woven cotton. Weft is black, the same as warp, doubled. The size of the weaving is 3" x 42" plus fringe.

Peter Collingwood analyzed this photo and determined how to weave the structure with tablets. He sent me a small sample that he wove, along with some drawings and the beginning of a graph. I graphed the entire band and then wove the reproduction shown on the right. This photo shows slightly more than half of the band. The size of the weaving is 2" x 21" plus fringe.

My band is smaller and tighter than the original, partly because the yarn I used is smaller, but also because I purposely beat it fairly hard to make the motifs more distinct. I used 5/2 perle cotton for warp, and the same for weft, doubled. There are 35 tablets in the pattern area, and 10 border tablets on each side. Each tablet has two threads, in opposite corner holes. The band is double-faced -- the design is exactly the same on the back with the values reversed. All motifs are symmetrical, and all tablets are turned continuously in one direction until the center of a motif, and then the turning is reversed until the center of the next motif.

For each row of the pattern graph, tablets are turned twice (180 degrees) to change the color, or are left as they are without turning to keep the color the same. However, to keep the color the same and avoid long floats, there are times when tablets need to be turned four times (360 degrees). This is indicated on the graph with an "x" in the square. In this location, a dot of the oppsite value shows in the weaving.
Tablet Weaving Gallery

This page updated on June 18, 2013.