SOAS University of London

Centre of South East Asian Studies

Tracing Patterns of Textiles in Ancient Java (8th-15th century)

Sandra Sardjono
Dr Sandra Sardjono (Tracing Patterns Foundation)

Date: 29 January 2020Time: 5:15 PM

Finishes: 29 January 2020Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: 4426

Type of Event: Seminar


The lecture provides an overview of the repertoire of textile-related patterns found on Ancient Javanese art and architecture, dated from 8th-15th century. The patterns, impressed upon stone and metal surfaces, enrich temple walls and the attire of Hindu-Buddhist deities and royalty. The lack of surviving textile material from this early period makes these patterns useful for tracing different types of textiles that may have existed in Ancient Java. Upon close scrutiny, however, the pattern’s veracity as a literal representation of an actual fabric can be called into question. Rather, the textile designs can be seen as a sculptor’s response to international styles. One example is a particular pattern found on a group of panels on the exterior walls of Candi Sewu, an eighth-century Buddhist temple in Central Java, which will be examined in detail.

Candi Sewu panel
Candi Sewu panel

The lecture will underscore the global connection between Java and the outside world, particularly China and India, where prototypes and correlates of the textile images and sculptural vocabularies can be found. The talk will show how Javanese artists displayed a sophisticated understanding of international styles of both sculpture and textiles, and were adept at translating, decontextualizing, and re-contextualizing—as a whole or in part—into a unique local aesthetic.

Speaker Biography

Dr Sandra Sardjono is an independent researcher and president of the Tracing Patterns Foundation, a nonprofit organization that promotes textile study. Her main research interest is the transmission of textile patterns and weaving technologies in Southeast Asia. She earned her doctorate in art history from the University of California, Berkeley in 2017 with a thesis Tracing Patterns of Textiles in Ancient Java (8th-15th century). Prior to her Ph.D. program, she worked as assistant curator of Costume and Textiles at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and as textile conservator at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, New York.


If you would like to attend the event please register. Online registration

This event is made possible by generous support from SOAS's Southeast Asian Art Academic Programme.

Organiser: SOAS Centre of South East Asian Studies and SOAS Southeast Asian Art Academic Programme

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