When Peter ten Hoopen travelled across the Indonesian archipelago in the 1970s, he was taken by the textile arts he saw along the way. Ikat weaving is a common thread that ties together the diversity of this nation’s myriad cultures and traditions, and unites the layers of history it was founded on, from the bronze age to the present day. In almost mystical ways, the processes and visible patterns of ikat weaving transmit mythologies and shared values across space and time.
Ten Hoopen certainly recognized all of this, and he began collecting Indonesian ikat textiles all across the archipelago. His collection is now one of the most important on earth, a testament to the wealth of local wisdom and folklore that make Indonesia such a rich country — rich beyond anything that can be counted in currency or recorded on a balance sheet.
Last week, the Museum of the Orient in Portugal, where ten Hoopen has lived for many years, opened an exhibition of his ikat textiles, entitled Woven Languages. Its focus is the didactic and semantic aspects of the weavings, and their place in cultural continuity. If you can find any excuse to visit Lisbon between now and the 25th of January, set aside at least a few hours in your agenda for this dazzling exhibition of 175 rare works of textile art — from Balinese geringsing double-ikat, to exceptionally rare weavings of Los Palos (Timor), to magically-charged pua kumbu from the Dayak tribes of Borneo, and more. This is a feast for the eyes, and the soul.
Exhibition visits guided by Peter ten Hoopen himself, are offered on the following dates: 15 November (at 11:00), and 16 January (at 18:30). You won’t want to miss these tours led by Peter. He’s quite a character, who’s lived a remarkable life, full of adventures of all kinds — internal and external, geographical, material, spiritual, and musical. Here’s some background on Peter. And here’s a bibliography of his published works.
The Museum of the Orient – Lisbon, Portugal
Now through 25 January 2015
(Supported by the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia)