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African & Asian Textiles

Luntaya-acheiq woven silk panel
Burmese (Myanmar), Amarapura region, late 19th century
23 x 33.5 in. (58.42 x 85.09 cm), mounted
Panel from an luntaya-acheiq cloth. Tapestry woven silk with a horizontal band pattern of repeating wave motifs, tendrils, flowers, zig-zags, and stripes.

In Burmese, luntaya means "one hundred shuttles," referring to the small metal or wooden shuttles required to construct the double-interlocking tapestry weave structure. Acheiq is the horizontal wave-like motif purportedly inspired by ripples on the Irrawaddy River. This fundamental element could be embellished upon to create an endless series of patterns.

The everyday clothes of Burmese royalty and laity were, in essence, the same in construction; however, the fabric from which garments were made underscored their difference. Social protocol demanded the wearing of regal silk luntaya-acheiq at court. The costliness of these textiles was measured in the material (lustrous raw silk imported from China) and in the labor, skill, and time invested in their production. In the 19th century, the Amarapura-Sagaing area of Burma was the chief producer of luntaya-acheiq silks.

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