Return to Sight, Lembata Island

As told to by Threads of Life field staff, Yansen Tuan

Wonderful that there are now facilities to remove cataracts in Lembata so people like Kristina can see again

What a miracle that someone living in such a remote place as Lembata Island, who was blind from cataracts for three years, can be treated and returned to sight! Kristina is a master weaver and dyer and among the first twelve weavers Threads of Life worked with in 1998. When William visited her two years ago, she was being led around her house by her daughter, and only recognizing William by his voice. He encouraged her to have the cataracts operated, but she said she was too afraid.. “But you don’t see now. What do you have to lose?” he encouraged, “And you will see again if you have the operation. You are still young. You could still weave!” Continue reading »

In a Lather over Candlenut Oil

Documenting the oiling process with Theresia, Nona, and Fatima

In late July, I was in central Flores, near the town of Ende, with Pung and Wayan from our dye team and Professor Tony Cunningham from Murdock University in Perth, Australia. We were with Theresia Ngeni and the members of the weavers’ group she runs, studying their unusual candlenut oil mordant process for the traditional Morinda red dye. Everywhere across Indonesia, the oiling process utilizes chemical reactions akin to soap making. In most places this involves soaking yarns in candlenut pulp; only around Ende and in Tenganan on Bali is an oil extracted and then used.
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Remote Sulawesi, June 2017

Danny Carney is an Australian Volunteer for International Development with the Bebali Foundation.

A weavers home in the remote mountains of Sulawesi

The trip to Sulawesi is perhaps one of our hardest. To reach the weaving communities with whom we work in the Toraja-Mangki region requires some four days of travel by plane, bus, car, motorbike, and finally by foot. We only take this trip once a year, and so it is a trip we plan for meticulously and greatly look forward to.
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Timor- Power of Cloth, Power of Rivers

Danny Carney is an Australian Volunteer for International Development with the Bebali Foundation.

Clouds

Clouds gather across the culturally charged landscape of west Timor’s mountains, and across the border into East Timor

Unlike on many of Indonesia’s islands, Timor’s cultural geography is pulled towards its mountains rather than the sea. Many of the communities with which we work are nestled in these mountain ranges, and can only be accessed by long windy roads. But in the heavy rains that are occurring across Timor right now, these roads quickly turn to slicks of mud and stone. This meant that during this month’s filed trip to Timor, the village of Bokong was inaccessible, with weavers instead descending down to the lowlands to bring us their intricate, Technicolor buna textiles.
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Savu Island

Willy-Daos-Kadati-with-Threads-of-Life-team-in-Savu

Willy Daos Kadati with Threads of Life team in Savu

We are delighted to have Willy Daos Kadati join us again in our work with Threads of Life natural dye traditional weaving groups. Willy worked with us for 6 years and then was at Charles Darwin University in Australia working on a masters degree for 3 years. He came back to Timor as he was “called” to take his place as the traditional leader of his clan in his village of Lansese in Insana. Willy’s deep knowledge of traditions and culture within the eastern islands is invaluable.
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A Dayak Desa Wedding Ceremony Using Traditional Textiles

The-bride-and-groom-with-their-attendents

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.

 

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Life Transition Ceremonies
A Dayak Desa Ceremony Using Traditional Textiles

 

Offerings-are-hung-covered-with-traditional-textiles-called-bidang

Offerings are hung covered with traditional bidang textiles

Traditional textiles called bidang have many uses in traditional ceremonies even to this day. For example, they are used to cover offering baskets that are hung in the long house where offerings are made to the spirit that guides and protects a family member when they are traveling and living far away.

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Gawai – A Dayak Desa Harvest Ceremony Using Traditional Textiles

Lius-di-kebun

Thalu Lius

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 tradtional textiles in Dayak ceremonies.
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The Passing of Two Amazing Weavers in Timor

Sau Sae (1978 - 2016)

Sau Sae (1978 – 2016)

Our first trip to the field this year was to Timor. We visited a dozen communities on the trip, but at both the first and last we found that women we had long worked with had died. In the very remote community of Boti, we were sad to hear that Sau Sae died in childbirth in January 2015. The child survived. All of Sau’s sisters and brothers were staying with the new baby up in the rooms where we usually sleep when visiting. “I have lost my sister,” said Liu in tears. “We call her little boy Sau so we never forget her.” We were all sad to hear of Sau’s passing as we had known her for more than fifteen years.
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The Run-Away Rangrang
Bali, Indonesia

Exquisite kimono are now being made by a handful of weavers in Japan.

Exquisite kimono are now being made by a handful of weavers in Japan

What does the future look like for the traditional weaving art form in Indonesia? Will it go the way of the obi and kimono in Japan where a few weavers remain in the cultural city of Kyoto where once there were thousands, and only the elite can afford their exquisite textiles as traditional dress for tea ceremonies? In this article I will follow the paths chosen by two Balinese weaving communities; one that has chosen the Kyoto model, and the other a fashion-based strategy.

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