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Pua Kumbu Sarawak traditional ceremonial cloth

"Pua Kumbu" is a traditional patterned multicolored ceremonial cotton cloth used by the Iban, made and used in Sarawak, Malaysia. Pua kumbu are woven by Dayak women and are considered to be sacred objects. They are used for lifecycle rituals and special events including the birth of a child, coming of age celebrations, receipt of an important item to a longhouse, and to screen a corpse that is being laid out in a longhouse prior to burial.

In the old days before the commercial thread was available, the Iban prepared the yarn from a locally grown cotton plant called taya (Gossypium sp). However, the dyes used even today are all natural, with no two shades are exactly the same, and the results are sometimes not always to the dyer's satisfaction. The Iban have traditionally made use of a large number of plants to produce a wide range of rich beautiful dyes. Most commonly used plants include Engkudu (Morinda Citrifolia), Engkerabai (Psychotria Virdiflora) and Tarum (Marsdenia Tinctoria, Indigofera).

The designs and patterns on each piece of textile represent meanings which have resulted in varied interpretations by collectors.The pua kumbu is essentially a sacred cloth, which may tell a mythological story, or a personal tale, or represent a historical archive.

  • Item for sale: Original Pua Kumbu
  • Note about color: Since the natural dyes are used, this piece of cloth cannot be washed at all. Water or other liquid contacts can spoil the cloth design. Colors in the photograph may vary from the original due to screen display and photographic variations
  • Approximate size: 155cm x 58cm

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