Gift of the Cotton Maiden: Textiles of Flores and the Solor Islands

HAMILTON, Roy W. (1994). Gift of the Cotton Maiden: Textiles of Flores and the Solor Islands, Los Angeles: Fowler Museum of Cultural History, UCLA. ISBN 978-0930741389, hardback, 288 pp, fully illustrated with colour, black/white photographs, bibliography,. Price: US$ 50 (ex. postage).

Flores and the Solor Islands are part of Indonesia and have a rich textile history. Flores, once colonized by the Dutch, now has a population of 1.4 million people. It is home to many distinct ethnic groups, each with their own tradition of dyeing (morinda, indigo and turmeric, in particular), weaving and trading in textiles. This very comprehensive book goes into detail about the distinctive dress of different groups, how the textiles are produced, their social significance and more. The book is lavishly illustrated and includes photographs of older and newer garments, both for everyday and ceremonial use, with technical notes and the local name of the garment and weave.

Recommendation: It is a book that you can open anywhere and learn something, whether a story about the origin of beads, or the unique men’s painted vests of Ndora. The extensive notes and obvious expertise of the contributors (the editor is curator of the Southeast Asian and Oceanic collections at the Fowler Museum of Cultural History UCLA) makes this book a valuable reference. It will be of interest in particular to curators, researchers and collectors of Indonesian textiles.

Shelley Anderson

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