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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Back on Track

Transportation has improved (above) for travel in the highlands of  Sulawesi since we first began visiting the communities in 2003 (below)

Transportation has improved (above) for travel in the highlands of Sulawesi since we first began visiting the communities in 2003 (below)

Some of you may remember from the March 2013 Threads of Life Newsletter that we discussed the dilemma we had with our Sulawesi weavers using synthetic dyes to achieve their red color. In January 2013 a group of us from Threads of Life and the Bebali Foundation met with the heads of each weaving group to discuss this problem. We met ‘half way’ between Bali and their villages. This was in Mamaju, Sulawesi: a day’s travel and 800 km by air for us, and a day’s very rough travel over 70 km by road for them. We then spent 3 days dyeing together to discuss recipe proportions as well as plant resources.
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Textiles, Animism & Mepetik Ceremony in Bali

Telung Oton or Mepetik at the home of Threads of Life staff Komang Darmini

Telung Oton or Mepetik at the home of Threads of Life staff Komang Darmini

The importance of textiles in Balinese ceremonies is most evident in the life cycle ceremonies called Munusa Yadnyathat are celebrated throughout a person’s lifetime. These include the Megedong gedongan (during the seventh month of pregnancy), Dapetan (upon returning to the family house after birth), Kepus Pungsed (a ceremony at the village crossroad at the time the umbilical cord falls off), Mecolong(12 days after birth when the mother and baby can first enter the kitchen), Akambuan (42 days after birth there is another ceremony at the crossroads), Telung Bulanan (3 months), A Oton (6 months), Telung Oton (18 months),Menek Kelih (puberty rite), Mesanggih (toothfiling as a coming of age ceremony), and Pernikahan (marriage).

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Revitalizing the Textile Culture in Tapobali, Lembata

After five years, the weavers of Ina Tula Tani have revived the tradition of weaving their natural dyed kreot nai juan textiles.

After five years, the weavers of Ina Tula Tani have revived the tradition of weaving their natural dyed kreot nai juan textiles.

After five years of support by Threads of Life and the Bebali Foundation, the Ina Tula Tani community group of weavers in Tapobali on Lembata Island has successfully revived their natural-dye textile tradition. The weavers are very pleased and are eager to continue to improve their skills of spinning cotton and refining their natural dyes to achieve even higher quality!  This is really remarkable as they had to learn to spin cotton and make natural dyes as well as plant all of these resources starting from nothing.

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Savu to Rai Jua

Seas around Timor and Savu are often very calm before the change of monsoon

Seas around Timor and Savu are often very calm before the change of monsoon

Trying to schedule a trip to Savu and Rai Jua islands is always a challenge – the timing needs to be such that it is late enough in the year so that the weavers have completed their textile work but not too late so that we have angin barat (the West Wind) where the seas are so high we cannot make sea crossings.

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New Products and Livelihoods for Timor

A few of the members of the Nek Mese weaving group.

A few of the members of the Nek Mese weaving group.

On this trip to Timor I went with a very specific purpose: to look for non-cotton fibers that are growing in the communities we currently are working in that may be used for a new product. We decided to start in Bokong, Amanatun, where we have a good working relationship with not only the weavers but their husbands, as this new product would most likely be one that the weavers husbands would make.

 

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A Month of Ceremonies In Tenganan

Slide 1

The village street of Tenganan Pegeringsingan.

Tenganan Pegeringsingan is a well known village in Bali, best known for the famous double-ikat geringsing textiles. Every year from mid-June there is a full month of ceremonies called Ngusaba Sambah during which the women and men of the village are often dressed in their finest traditional costumes.

 

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