Calligraphic batik head cloth

This batik head cloth or ‘ikat kepala’ is hand-drawn with a motif of Islamic calligraphy. This brownish red batik is made from fine cotton and features rows of the word 'Allah' in rudimentary script and pseudo-calligraphy, suggesting the batik workers who made this piece were probably illiterate in Arabic. Though the inscriptions written on these textiles are generally meaningless, they still served a talismanic or protective function. This highlights the power of the written word – even if it is illegible or merely symbolic. When worn, batik kaligrafi is a marker which indicates the religious affiliation of the wearer. These textiles could have also performed a protective function as the Arabic script is considered sacred as it transmits the Divine Revelations from God in the Qur’an.

Date/Period
Early-mid 20th century
Region
Jambi, Sumatra, Indonesia
Dimension
Object size: L93.6 x W90.0 cm
Accession No.
2001-00351
Material
cotton
Collection of
Asian Civilisations Museum
Category
Textiles

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