Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Textile Society of America 9th Biennial Symposium (2004)


Presented at “Appropriation • Acculturation • Transformation,” Textile Society of America 9th Biennial Symposium, Oakland, California, October 7-9, 2004. Copyright 2004 Textile Society of America.


The Sa'dan Toraja loom is a variant of the body-tension loom with a continuous warp. A comparison is made between the Sa'dan loom to other looms found on the island of Sulawesi, Indonesia, based on ethnographic fieldwork I conducted there from June 1993 to June 1994. This research is done in order to situate the Sa'dan loom in a historical time frame. I suggest that loom type correlates with the materials and decorative techniques, and to a certain, but lesser, extent with design. This assemblage of material data offers insight into the cultural history of South Sulawesi.

My fieldwork supports what Maxwell (1990) has shown, that foreign cultural influences have been layered onto the indigenous material culture. These influences have entered via trade and marriage alliances. In the loom technology and the weaving of Sa'dan Toraja, one can see four historical layers of influence: (1) The Sa'dan Toraja indigneous, c. 4000-8000 years ago. (2) The Dong-Son art style of northern Vietnam, c. 2000- 4000 years ago. (3) The Hindu-Buddhist cultural influence, c. 400 AD. (4) The coming of Islam, c. 1400 AD.

This technical weaving and loom data may be compared to data from other areas with the same type of loom and weaving technique. This information in turn provides clues of cultural affiliation, and relationships from the present and the past between two, or more groups of people who have weaving as a common cultural and technological trait.