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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Karutuan Toraja and Mamasa Toraja News

Threads of Life fieldstaff; Yansen Tuan and Made Pung made their annual trip to Sulawesi

For Threads of Life field staff, Yansen Tuan and Made Pung, breakdowns of public transport are frequent during the annual trip to Sulawesi

“I thought Timor’s roads were bad,” reported Yansen, Threads of Life’s Timorese field staff, of his June 2015 field trip to Toraja. “But nothing compares to the roads in this part of Sulawesi! I wanted to count the number of rivers we had to forge and so I picked up a pebble for every river we crossed from Mamaju to Batu Isi. When we arrived back to Mamaju I had 21 pebbles in my pocket!”
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Revitalization of a Kalimantan Art Form

A healthy forest in West Kalimantan ten years ago

A healthy forest in West Kalimantan ten years ago

It has been more than ten years since Threads of Life began to work in West Kalimantan with Dayak Desa weavers to help revive their art and their motivation to make traditional natural dyed textiles and other cultural art forms. Over this time the devastation of the forests has been beyond anything I could have imagined. The dire statistics are easy to find but what I need to find is how I feel about it. How do I deal with this tragedy that affects the whole world? What do the Dayak people do, whose identity is built on the life they made from these forests?
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Twelve Years in Timor Part 3 – Reflections
Is there another Generation of Weavers?

Teaching-a-younger-woman-to-weave-by-her-aunt

An aunt teaching her niece to weave

Part of the mission statement for Threads of Life has been to improve the livelihood of women, and this has been accomplished beyond our expectations. The downside (if one dares to call it a downside) is that the financial success of the mother has decreased the weaving pool. Where does she put her extra earned resources? Into her children’s education, of course! Including that of her daughters. Many of Threads of Life weavers have paid for their daughters to go high school and even University. So, what is the likelihood that such a well-educated young woman will come back to her village and weave? Small, indeed.
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Twelve Years in Timor Part 2 – April, 2015
The Mysterious Textile that Opened More Doors Than Expected

The mystery cloth that opened more doors than expected

The mystery cloth that opened more doors than expected

About two months ago a good friend, Lyn Shwaiko, came to the Threads of Life office with a number of old textiles that she wanted to be identified. One textile jumped out for me. Though I didn’t know exactly where it was from, I had a sense I knew: handspun with a bold black centerfield and indigo blue motifs on the side panels made me think immediately of the island of West Timor. We asked if we could keep the textile and bring it with us when we next went to Timor. Our friend readily agreed to lend us this beautiful piece as she knows our work is to revive textile traditions when the opportunity presents itself, and this was opportunity was knocking at the door!
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The Revitalization of Traditional Textiles in Timor

Timor has more diversity of traditional textiles than other islands where Threads of Life works

Timor has more diversity of traditional textiles than other islands where Threads of Life works

The island of Timor and particularly West Timor is perhaps the most prolific in the production of a wide variety of traditional textiles that are still used today for rituals and ceremonies. “The diversity of color and types of textiles is what keeps my interest in working with weavers on this island,” says Wenten. “Although Threads of Life has worked for many years in West Timor we are still finding small enclaves of weavers making types of textiles tha we haven’t seen before.” Wenten reflects on some of these new areas in this report.
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