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halili
1951.23.912
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

An exquisite tunic of barkcloth with mica spots and applique work of barkcloth, collar and pear shaped patches of red cotton and fringe of cotton. The fabrication of barkcloth garments was a process associated with fertility and femininity in central Sulawesi, though men were employed on felling trees, detaching the bark and making implements. All young girls learned to beat the fermented bark and decorate the finished garments. Every girl was expected to produce a complete “wardrobe” of festive wear before her wedding. The blouse, halili, was the most popular garment, and a month’s work could go into exquisitely decorating it with embroidery or appliqué of both barkcloth and cotton; not infrequently, pieces of mica were sewn on as well. There were two kinds of halili, with a straight and round hem respectively. Whatever the type, the loveliest adornment was at the back, the reason being that in the dance the women moved line by line after each other, displaying their backs. The plainer front was decorated with long strings of beads and gold or silver necklaces.

History of the Object
Kaudern's interest in ethnography had already been awakened by two voyages to Madagascar in 1906-07 and 1911-12. A few years later we find him setting off again, this time on a long expedition to the island of Celebes in the Dutch East Indies, looking for answers to zoo-geographic questions about the island. The whole of Sulawesi had been annexed for the Dutch empire a decade earlier and the island’s unexplored interior opened up. Zoological aspects apart, Kaudern proposed studying the island’s original population as far as time would allow. Sulawesi’s unique position midway between Asia and Australia, in terms of both flora and fauna – yet to be scientifically explored – was a considerable enticement to a young scientist. During this stay of just over three and a half years on Sulawesi, ethnography steadily gains the upper hand. Kaudern collects more than 3,000 objects, mainly from the Kaili-Pamona peoples of central Sulawesi, takes hundreds of photographs and paints 15 pictures. Thanks to his scientific training, the items collected are carefully catalogued and systematized. Kaudern makes drawings of many of them, as well as structural drawings of dwellings and temples.

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Type
Costume and Jewelry 
Materials
Barkcloth, cotton, mica spots 
Measurements
Width 74 cm  
Creator name
unknown 
Creator date
Unknown 
Where it was made
Indonesia; Central Sulawesi 
Geography
Indonesia 
Time period
AD 20th century ~ AD 20th century 
Creation date
20th Century; Early 20th century 
Function
Halili, a woman's tunic used at dances and ceremonies. 
Acquisition
Walter Kaudern (1881-1942) was a qualified zoologist but gradually became more and more interested in human beings and ethnography. He gained his doctorate in zoology in 1910 and also had writings published early on in other disciplines, such as geology and botany. After Nordenskiöld died in 1932, Kaudern was put in charge of the Ethnographic Museum, and the appointment was made official in 1934.  
Copyright
 
Acknowledgements
 
Owner
Museum of World Culture 
Museum
Museum of World Culture 
Credit line
 

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