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Queen of Kanantang & Family
This photo was taken in the early 1980s - and shows the Sumbanese Queen of Kanatang (older woman in front row). Kanantang is near Waingapu - and is known for its dense patterns and precise ikat-ting.
There are two textiles on display in the photo: the backdrop and another held by the young man standing to the right of the Queen. Here are those two textiles: SJH-075-I-SUM and SJH-076-I-SUM.
The Queen, from what I understood, was born in Rende area of Sumba, located in the southeastern part of Sumba. Sumbanese female royalty always marry outside their immediate clan. Rende is known for very precise, repetitive ikat design - and she took this skill with her to Kanantang. A third textile that she wove (and obtained directly from her) is SJH-000-I-SUM.
On my 2nd day in Sumba, circa 1974, I was invited to a royal burial. The raja had died in the early 1950s - and it had taken nearly 20 years to set aside the monies AND woven textiles to provide a proper burial. It was an amazing event: several large caribou were slaughtered, hundreds of locals attended, this was a big deal (I later discovered).
I remembered the event when I later returned to Sumba in pursuit of textiles - but could never locate the village where I had been. One day, I was invited by a “runner” to go see some royal Sumba textiles. I was skeptical but went. That morning, as I sat on the iron-wood porch of an old Sumbanese local Queen, it dawned on me that this was the original site I had visited years ago. On my next trip to Sumba, I was able to return with the original photographs from that burial ceremony I had attended several years earlier. When I gave the photographs to the Queen, she was overjoyed - and she offered to sell me the three textiles noted above. It was the Queen of Kanantang’s home.