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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Supporting the Weaving and Traditional Arts

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Heading inland to Putussibau from Sintang requires a ride of 8 hours by motorbike or 6 hours by car

Threads of Life has been working for many years in West Kalimantan around the area of Sintang which is about a 9 hour drive from Pontianak. Our work in Sintang continues but we decided to head more inland towards Putussibau in the district of Kapuas Hulu to see if there are other weaving traditions that Threads of Life might be able to support. Kapuas Hulu is home tothe Taman Dayak, Iban, Kayaan and Punan, Kenyah, Kelabit ethnic groups among others.

 

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Reviving Textiles of the Batak Toba

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Lake Toba is the largest lake on any island in the world. The lake was formed by one of history’s biggest volcanic eruptions

Sumatra is the sixth largest island in the world and home to many ethnic groups speaking more than 50 different languages. Batak is a term that actually includes several ethnic groups found in Northern Sumatra near Lake Toba, and includes the Toba, Karo, Pakpak, Simalungun, Angkola and Mandailing Batak. Each have distinct languages and customs. Historically, local textiles (ulos) have reflected these ethnic differences but today there is much innovation with designs moving across all groups.

 

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The Copper Roaster Crows

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Lontar palms growing on Savu look much like the landscape in my village on Bali

The high point for me this year was bringing some of our friends from Savu over to Bali for the Ubud Readers and Writers Festival. Over the years that I have been visiting Savu I have been amazed at how comfortable I always feel there.  Perhaps it is because so much of the way of life in Savu is similar to the dry north coast of Bali where I grew up.  I see it in the ways that they use rituals to evoke prosperity, harmony and health between the realms of humans, animals and nature.  In Bali we call this Tri Hita Karana.

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