This extremely rare cloth is a relative of the fabled Palepai ship's cloth of South Sumatra.
It is in fantastic condition for its age with only one small repair. It has a supplementary weave of organically colored cotton in yellow (turmeric), blue (Indigo), and red (sepang, Caesalpens seppan). In addition, some of the infill patterns are woven with metallic thread
Not a great deal is known about the symbolism depicted here but the dominant motive of a ship is thought to connect this life with the afterlife In this instance the ship appears to have a stack of smaller ships on its deck
Although there are modern replicas of palapai, they ceased to be woven after the 1920s so this piece is at least 100 years old. It has been in our collection since we bought it from a French woman who had lived in Jakarta in the '60s and who was a personal friend of the then president, Sukarno.
The use of ship's cloth were in important life cycle rites such as birth, circumcision, marriage, and funeral ceremonies. The palepai were reserved for the use of families of the highest status in the community. Tatebin could be used in ceremonies by people of lower status
You can read more in Musings https://baliqueartsofindonesia.com/blogs/blog/tatebin