Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Graham, Penelope. “The ‘Severed Shroud’: Local and Imported Textiles in the Mortuary Rites of an Indonesian People.” Contact, Crossover, Continuity: Proceedings of the Fourth Biennial Symposium of the Textile Society of America, September 22–24, 1994 (Los Angeles, CA: Textile Society of America, Inc., 1995), pp. 159–166.


Copyright © 1994 Penelope Graham


This paper explores the significance of local and imported textiles as these interact forming complex categories in the mortuary rites of the Lamaholot-speaking people of the traditional district Lewolema in eastern Flores, Indonesia. Within this regional framework, my account draws primarily on field work in the village of Lewotala. There a person's physical demise elicits diverse social and ritual practices, depending on the deceased's achievements during his or her lifetime and the circumstances surrounding the death. As regards the mortuary sequence that commonly occurs, I will argue that various uses of cloth for exchange purposes mark both the severence—consequent on death—of a specific affinal link and the simultaneous concern for its encompassment in a continuing flow of life between reputedly agnatic local clans and/or subclans.