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Accepted Paper:

Between Heritage and Fashion: Traditional Karo Batak Textiles  

Author:

Aglaia Iankovskaia (Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera), Russian Academy of Sciences)

Paper short abstract:

The paper discusses the roles of traditional textiles (uis) in the life of the Karo Batak, Indonesia. Based on the author's field observations, it addresses the functions of uis as both an ethnic identity marker and fashion item, and looks into recent fashion tendencies in the Karonese communities.

Paper long abstract:

The paper discusses the roles of traditional textiles (uis) in the life of the Karo Batak of North Sumatra, Indonesia. Uis is a rectangular handwoven cloth produced on a backstrap loom, which can be worn as a scarf, sarong or headdress. Strongly associated by the Karo with their heritage and ethnic identity, uis continues to be an indispensable part of Karonese life cycle rituals and other festive occasions. However, besides its ritual connotations, uis appears to be a fashionable item which, along with Western and common Indonesian elements (such as batik, songket and kebaya), constitutes the modern Karo Batak festive outfit. While the patterns used in uis design tend to be conservative, the colours can be a subject to variation. The paper, based on the author's field observations in Sumatra in 2015 and 2018, addresses the functions of uis as both an ethnic identity marker and fashion item, and looks into some recent fashion tendencies in the Karonese communities. Those include the initiatives to incorporate traditional Karonese architecture patterns into uis designs, and the rethinking of uis as an element of modern pieces of clothing by the young Karonese fashion designers.

Panel P150
Fashion: uses and practises of clothing in a moving world