The beaded motif human like figure on this deep indigo handspun cotton Lau Witikau textile depicts a Marapu ancestral spirit - Marapu is the animistic religion of the people of Sumba. The broad ears and big eyes meaning everything is heard, and seen. The ancestor is always with us to protect and guide our way. The beaded motifs are kapaki or stick insect and kapaka or frog - both are representations of the ancestors.
It is fascinating that the kapaki stick insect, which is in the same family as the praying mantis, is one of the accompanying beaded motifs. The large eyes of a stick insect and movement of the head and arms is so human-like it is no wonder it is chosen to accompany the ancestor figure.
The shells on the Lau Witikau are collected from sea snail shells washed up on Sumba’s beaches. They are then sliced iwith a machete and carefully sewn onto the cloth. The beads used in this cloth are a mix of new and old.
Traditionally Lau Witikau was made by royal mothers for their daughters prior to marriage for inclusion in the bride's trousseau.
Information about the makers will be supplied with each cloth.
Plain weave, handspun cotton and bead & shellwork, two panels, natural dyes. Made in Sumba, 2017. Size 127 x 60 cm / 50 x 23.5 in