Adat Houses of Bokong

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Fields near Bokong. Threads of Life botanists have collected rare plants in these fields.

Threads of Life field teams have been visiting Bokong for three years, but had never had an opportunity to visit their traditional clan houses, which stand about three kilometers away from the village proper. On this trip, Wenten made sure to set aside a few hours to see the clan houses.

 

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Batak Carvings

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A traditional Batak house, with high peaks and walls that lean outwards.

North Sumatra is still dotted with clusters of beautiful traditional houses, called umah godang, long houses on stilts with boat-shaped roofs and distinct sculptural features. Each umah godang is also paired with a rice barn called a sopo, which stands facing the main house across a central square. The arrangement is similar to traditional villages in Tana Toraja, in the mountains of central Sulawesi.

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Putussibau: The Heart of Borneo

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A traditional Dayak longhouse raised on stilts beside the river.

Putussibau is deep in the interior of Borneo, close to the border with Malaysia. The town is in the high reaches of the Kapuas River system, about six hours by bus from the larger city of Sintang. Putissibau and the small villages in the nearby forests are outposts of an embattled Dayak culture, which is under assault on all sides: from the government, which is developing the forest, transmigrants from other parts of Indonesia, and foreign missionaries.

 

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The Far End of Flores

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Larantuka town, at the base of Ile Mandiri volcano.

Every time we travel to Lembata, we make the drive from Maumere to Larantuka, a city on the eastern tip of Flores. The drive winds between smoking volcanoes and follows the curves of yellow sandy beaches, and passes through many villages. Usually, in our hurry to get to Larantuka, we do not stop anywhere along this road, except to get a cup of coffee, or perhaps to buy some wild honey.

 

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A New Rangda Mask for Ubud, Bali

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Pung with the new sacred Rangda mask.

In early April this year I was working at my computer when I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was Pung, in Balinese temple wear, with a big smile on his face. “”Get dressed,”” he said. “”Come with me to the graveyard!”” What an offer! But over the years I have learned to listen when Pung makes these kinds of urgent suggestions.

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Traveling with Threads of Life to Remote Sulawesi

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A young boy flies a kite on the streets of Mamuju.

The long, arduous trip up to the remote villages of Toraja Karataun is made shorter by a flight into Mamuju, the capital of West Sulawesi. Mamuju is a new city, with a large population of transmigrants from Java, and very little character of its own. The growth of cities like Mamuju drives home the importance of preserving the diversity of traditional cultures.

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Celebrating a New Traditional House

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The village of Babotin and the newly bulit Sonap Biru traditional house.

Last year when I was in the village of Babotin on West Timor, Mama Rosa and her family were all busy with the construction of a new traditonal house. Babotin follows a matriarchal system; the husband moves into the woman’s house. There are three types of traditional houses that service the entire community: the Sonap Biru which is considered male, Sonap Oknao which is considered to be female and the Sonap Retet is considered the kitchen and is a ceremonial storehouse.

 

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Field Notes Guam

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“How can I identify with the culture of my grandfathers and grandmothers and still participate in this modern society?”

In 2010 the University of Guam wrote a grant to bring a Threads of Life exhibition as well as a Traditional Teacher to Guam. The exhibit was to show the material culture of the remote traditional communities of Indonesia that Threads of Life works with and the sense of pride that these communities have for these cultural expressions as seen in the quality of their work.

 

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Machi Textiles of Fais Island

Photographs and Original Documentation by Donald Rubinstein and Sophiano Limol

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The island of Fais in the Carolina Islands of Micronesia.

In March Threads of Life presented an exhibition of textiles at the Isla Gallery of the University of Guam. During our time there we were able to meet with Dr. Donald Rubinstein, an anthropologist and faculty of the Micronesia Studies Program. In 2001 Donald along with a young man, Sophiano Limol, proposed a cultural revival program for Yap State in the Federated States of Micronesia. As Sophiano is from the 2-kilometer-long island of Fais in Yap, the important ceremonial machi textile from Fais was chosen as the focus of this revival.

 

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Meeting the Weavers of Sumba Face to Face

By Threads of Life Gallery Staff: Iluh, Desak and Lia

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(Left to right) Iluh, Lia and Desak. Our flight from Denpasar to Sumba.

We have been working in the Threads of Life Gallery in Ubud Bali as sales staff for the past number of years. We often sell textiles woven by weavers in Sumba so we recognize all of their names, but this March we had the chance to actually fly to Sumba and meet the weavers face to face.

 

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