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The Microscopic World

Plastic

Seating mat Zoomify

A world without plastic objects is difficult to imagine, yet it existed a mere century ago. The first truly synthetic plastic, known as Bakelite, was invented in 1909, but was not in general use until after World War I. Plastic objects are made by processes that involve heating polymers to a liquid state, extruding or moulding the liquid, and then drying the objects to harden.

About the Object

Object name: Seating mat (tikai buret)
Place made: Borneo
People: Maloh
Date made: 1940-1960
Dimensions: 62 x 21 cm
Materials & Techniques: Bark fibre and cotton, woven and embellished with glass beads, sequins, plastic buttons, wool felt, bone
Credit line: Gift of Aris Slesers
ID: T84.0106

Among the many indigenous groups living in Borneo, the Maloh people are expert bead workers. They make mats such as this one, which they tie around their waists while working or travelling, and use to sit on to protect their loincloths. This mat is crafted with beaded trimming, plastic buttons and appliquéd fabrics.

Alternative Views

Back

Back

Oblique

Oblique

Note: clicking a thumbnail image will open a high-resolution version.

Second Look

Macro

Macro

Microscopic Views

Microscopic Views


Description: A microscopic view at 3x magnification
Credit: Macrography Courtesy of Sandra Webster-Cook of the AGO

Microscopic Views

Microscopic Views


Description: A microscopic view at 5x magnification
Credit: Macrography Courtesy of Sandra Webster-Cook of the AGO

Microscopic Views

Microscopic Views


Description: A microscopic view at 12.5x magnification
Credit: Macrography Courtesy of Sandra Webster-Cook of the AGO

Note: clicking a thumbnail image will open a high-resolution version.

Touchpoint View

Animation

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Slide Show

Plastic Buttons

Watch a slide show of button making

Button Making

Button Making


Description: Liquid polyester, dye, wax and a catalyst are mixed together, and then poured into a rotating drum. The mixture is distributed evenly through centrifugal force, and an even sheet of polyester results.
Credit: Drawing by Amber Yared

Button Making

Button Making


Description: Buttons are die cut, cooled in a bag dipped in salt water, and then dried in a centrifugal drying machine.
Credit: Drawing by Amber Yared

Button Making

Button Making


Description: Buttons are customized using drills and other tools, and then made smooth and shiny by being agitated with water and an abrasive agent.
Credit: Drawing by Amber Yared

Note: clicking a thumbnail image will open a high-resolution version.

Artifact Narrative

The Slave Motif

The yellow figure on this seating mat represents a slave – a popular motif on beaded Maloh textiles. In the highly classist Maloh society of the past, slaves were people either indebted to aristocracy or captured in war. These wars occurred among the Dyak people of Borneo, of whom the Maloh are a part. When the Dutch colonial government abolished slavery in the early 20th century, the Maloh’s once rigid class hierarchies largely dissolved. The yellow figure also appears on the Maloh skirt.

Skirt

Skirt (kain manik)

Place made: Borneo
People: Maloh
Date made: 1800-1980
Dimensions: 50 x 46 cm
Materials & Techniques: Cotton, woven and embellished with glass beads
Credits: Gift of Ken Albright
ID: T85.0041

Audio Clip

The Mat’s Use

Listen to TMC visitors, Micah Donovan and Nobu Adilman, talk about this object.

Credit: Audio produced by TMC

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Related Image

Sport of Wrestling Among the Orang Ulu

The Mat’s Use

Image title: Sport of Wrestling Among the Orang Ulu
Credit: Photograph by Charles Hose, ca. 1900

Note: clicking a thumbnail image will open a high-resolution version.

Transcript

MD: Whoa, I didn’t know what we were expecting.
NA: I was expecting something larger.
MD: I was expecting, like, an overcoat.
NA: Yah. I was thinking like a, like a, what’s it called, a, uhh, a floating, a flying carpet. That’s what I was expecting. This is like a flying carpet for a very small, small person.
MD: I’m trying to remember what it’s for. Is it a seating mat?
NA: A seating mat for a day old baby, maybe?
MD: No, but is it like something you take to an event? Kind of like those little folding three-legged stools that you take to the horse races. Is that what it, what it is? Where you put it down on the ground and then you sit on it? Or do you wear it?
NA: Hmm.
MD: Well, I mean, what is it?
NA: What is this?
MD: Yah.
NA: This is a ceremonial, umm, part fashion, part, umm, practical seating mat, slash a decorative fashion statement.
MD: Ha ha ha. In a nut shell.
NA: Ha ha ha. In a nut shell. Yeah. In a really streamlined explanation.

Collection Connections

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Skirt

Skirt

ID*: T85.0032

Dress

Dress

ID*: T87.0141

Dress

Dress

ID*: T00.45.22