The Copper Roaster Crows

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Lontar palms growing on Savu look much like the landscape in my village on Bali

The high point for me this year was bringing some of our friends from Savu over to Bali for the Ubud Readers and Writers Festival. Over the years that I have been visiting Savu I have been amazed at how comfortable I always feel there.  Perhaps it is because so much of the way of life in Savu is similar to the dry north coast of Bali where I grew up.  I see it in the ways that they use rituals to evoke prosperity, harmony and health between the realms of humans, animals and nature.  In Bali we call this Tri Hita Karana.

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Making Great Strides in West Timor

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The women of the Com Esa weavers’ group of Helong, under the guidance of Thersia Ngaing (in front with pink shirt)

In 2008 when we first sought out weavers in the Helong area, Thersia Alle Ngaing was in her late 60s and was the last woman who still had the knowledge required to weave the ethnic group’s traditional textiles. Today 11 women work with Thersia. Together they have revived the natural dye art by weaving both the woman’s Sembeg Hata textile and the mans’ Sembeg Klobe hip cloth.

 

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The Joka Ju Festival in Nggela

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Accepting an invitation to the annual Joka Ju ceremony in Nggela, Flores

Early July I received a text message from one of the traditional leaders in Nggela, Flores, inviting me to attend the traditional harvest ceremony, Joka Ju. I was eager to make this trip to learn more about the ceremonies of this very traditional community in central Flores. Joka Ju is a ritual that takes place every year according to the traditional calendar of Nggela. The purpose of the ceremony is to purify the village and its population having just completed an agricultural season.

 

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The Many Uses of a Clay Pot

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Anastasia Bete selling earthenware pots at the Ua Bau market in Belu

I first met Anastasia Bete at the weekly market in Ua Bau, Belu in 2008. Mama Anastasia was selling simple but elegant earthenware pots that are still used for cooking corn, beans and vegetables as well as natural dyes over wood fires. She told me that she can only make these pots during the dry season. I bought the pots she had with her and said I would like to visit her in her village to understand how she was making these pots.

 

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A Traditional Sasak Textile from Lombok

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The weaving group from Sukarara

It has been six months since our last visit to Sukarara in Lombok. The weavers there remain very enthusiastic and had been busy dyeing and weaving textiles based on the examples we showed them last year. We were all excited with what they had accomplished but needed to make sure they have the plant resources to support their ongoing production, and that the group maintains a high level of quality in their work.

 

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A Conversation with Petronela Pape

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Our fourth visit to the traditional compound of Nggela

It takes many visits before a community perceives us as being seriously committed to working with them. While the intensity of Nggela’s sacred feeling remains strong for me, this visit felt more comfortable, as though there was a greater sense of familiarity between us and the villagers. We greeted each other with friendly words and smiles. People seemed to recognize us, now, on our fourth visit.

 

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A Commitment to the Textile Arts of Sintang, Kalimantan

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The Kapuas River is the longest river in Indonesia

Kalimantan is the largest of Indonesia’s 14,000 islands with the country’s longest river, the Kapuas, running north-south in the west of the island. The town of Sintang is on this river ten hours by road from Pontinank, the capital of West Kalimantan. It is a wearying trip from Bali to Jakarta and Pontinak by air and then continuing by car. I traveled with Pung and Frog who work with Threads of Life’s sister organization, the YPBB Foundation. They have been working with weavers in Sintang for the past five years.

 

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