A Dayak Desa Wedding Ceremony Using Traditional Textiles


Thalu Lius working with Threads of Life since 2010

Thalu Lius is from the ethnic group Dayak Desa in West Kalimantan. Lius has been working as field staff in Kalimantan for Threads of Life  since 2010. Lius is working with Dayak traditional natural dye weavers and basket makers. He comes to Bali twice a year to meet with the Threads of Life team and this year we had the opportunity to learn about the use of tradtiional textiles in Dayak ceremonies.


The bride and groom with their attendents

Dayak Desa call a wedding pejadi.  When the man arrives at the woman’s home to take his new bride to his family home(ngamik laki ) the woman receives him wearing  the traditional ikat skirt with shells and bells called tating (sold at Threads of Life). She wears a traditional headdress (pantung) and a  beaded collar to cover the breasts called tatai.


The groom and the traditional leader wear a traditional hat ketapu luang. The elder carries a sumpit or blowpipe

The groom is accompanied by the an male elder from his clan to the woman’s house. They both wear a traditional plaited bamboo hat called ketapu luang(sold at Threads of Life. The male elder carries a sumpit or blow pipe decorated with 7 different colored flowers representing the seven layers between the world of spirit and humans. The blowpipe  ( sumpit) symbolizes strength and is not only used  for hunting but is also used in a healing ceremony.  A blowpipe is made from a particular wood (Eusideroxylon zwageri) that is hollowed out so that a poisoned dart can be fired. The hole through the pipe is also representative of a connection between the worlds of spirit and living. When a person is ill, the blowpipe is used to call the spirit of the person back.


Traditional motif ruit nyandik on an open textile called bidang

The importance of the blow pipe in Dayak culture is apparent as it also appears as a prominent motif (ruit nyandik )  on a traditional open textile (bidang).6. During the Gawai other ceremonies such as the ritual bathing of a child take place


During the weaving process offerings are made to the spirit of the textile

During the weaving process of making a traditional natural dyed textile, a Dayak Desa woman will make simple offerings  to the spirit of the textile so that the weaving goes well and no negative inflluence comes to the weaver or her family. When she finishes the weaving, she will thank the spirits of the textile for all going well.  The offering usually consists of cooked rice, egg or meat, betel nut (Acacea catechu) and piper betel  leaf. Like the seven different flowers on the sumpit, the weaver will circle the offering around the cloth to the right seven times, touch the cloth seven times and then circle the cloth in the opposite direction seven times.