Anthropology Professor Emerita Susan Rodgers curated an exhibit titled, “Woven Power: Ritual Textiles of Sarawak and West Kalimantan,” which was on display at the Cantor Art Gallery from August 31 – December 14, 2016.
The textiles featured in the exhibition are from the private collection of John G. Kreifeldt, a professor emeritus in Tufts University’s engineering department. Over decades, Kreifeldt has amassed a comprehensive representation of textiles from Borneo known as “pua kumbu,” “sungkit” wraps and “kain kebat” ceremonial skirts. These intricately dyed, hand-loomed cotton textiles were woven on backstrap looms as religious objects by the Iban and Dayak women (native peoples of Borneo), who were seen as great experts and highly skilled natural dye producers during the 19th and early 20th century.
“The ‘Woven Power’ exhibition was a rare opportunity to see some truly remarkable textiles, as John Kreifeldt’s collection had never been exhibited beyond a few individual textiles,” says Roger Hankins, director of the Cantor Art Gallery. “It also enabled us to get a glimpse into the culture that created them, through Professor Rodgers’ and her students’ research.”
Rodgers and four Holy Cross students traveled to Bali and Sarawak in the summer of 2016 to study natural dye-making and ikat tying technique. Michael ’93 and Jennifer Figge provided additional support for “Woven Power” and for the students’ hands-on explorations of Southeast Asian textiles.
—Maura Sullivan Hill with Jessica Kennedy