Last Look


Haute couture, in rattan.

Yale University Art Gallery

Yale University Art Gallery

View full image

This hat, exquisitely crafted of rattan leaves and binding, cotton cloth and thread, and—for extra elegance—mica, was handmade in Sulawesi, Indonesia, in the late nineteenth or early twentieth century. It is a woman’s hat, known to the Bajau people who created it as a tudung; the brim is about 19 inches across. The Bajau were traditionally sea nomads, living on houseboats or in houses on stilts at the seashore, and, as the tudung shows, they have a heritage of fine weaving and needlework. The hat is now part of a large collection of Indonesian textiles at the Yale University Art Gallery (on loan from and slated to be donated by Thomas Jaffe ’71). Ruth Barnes, the gallery’s Thomas Jaffe Curator of Indo-Pacific Art, says, “One can’t imagine” that hats this fine “were worn on a daily basis; they were worn on ceremonial occasions.” Clearly they weren’t just for wearing around the houseboat.

The comment period has expired.