A Traditional Sasak Textile from Lombok

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The weaving group from Sukarara

It has been six months since our last visit to Sukarara in Lombok. The weavers there remain very enthusiastic and had been busy dyeing and weaving textiles based on the examples we showed them last year. We were all excited with what they had accomplished but needed to make sure they have the plant resources to support their ongoing production, and that the group maintains a high level of quality in their work.

 

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A Conversation with Petronela Pape

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Our fourth visit to the traditional compound of Nggela

It takes many visits before a community perceives us as being seriously committed to working with them. While the intensity of Nggela’s sacred feeling remains strong for me, this visit felt more comfortable, as though there was a greater sense of familiarity between us and the villagers. We greeted each other with friendly words and smiles. People seemed to recognize us, now, on our fourth visit.

 

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A Commitment to the Textile Arts of Sintang, Kalimantan

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The Kapuas River is the longest river in Indonesia

Kalimantan is the largest of Indonesia’s 14,000 islands with the country’s longest river, the Kapuas, running north-south in the west of the island. The town of Sintang is on this river ten hours by road from Pontinank, the capital of West Kalimantan. It is a wearying trip from Bali to Jakarta and Pontinak by air and then continuing by car. I traveled with Pung and Frog who work with Threads of Life’s sister organization, the YPBB Foundation. They have been working with weavers in Sintang for the past five years.

 

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The Magnetism of Traditional Textiles in Lombok

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Lombok textiles for sale with most containing Balinese motifs

I first visited the weaving centers of Pringgasela and Sukarara on Lombok in 2004. At that time most of the products being produced were the brightly colored synthetic dyed, supplementary weft textiles called songket. Most of these textiles employed Balinese motifs and were sold in Negara, West Bali, as it was cheaper for Balinese to buy these Lombok textiles than to buy or make their own.

 

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Moving Towards a Brighter Future

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Cecilia (right) and Ilda from the Alola Foundation joined Threads of Life’s team to visit Oecusi weavers groups

The Threads of Life team of Wenten, Willy and myself joined our collegues Cecilia, Louis, Ilda and Casiano from the Alola Foundation for a 7-day visit to Oecusi, the small enclave of Timor Leste which is surrounded by Indonesian West Timor. We went to visit weaving groups that Alola is currently working with and to assess how vibrant the traditional weaving arts are.

 

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Weavers At the End of the World

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y trip started off with a big surprise – the new airport in Makassar!

Whenever I am getting ready to go to visit our weaving groups in West Sulawesi I have the feeling that I am going to the end of the world. I now bring along my own provisions of food, and acidophilus tablets to balance my stomach as food is often hard to come by. Then I hope that the travel conditions will have improved somewhat from previous years. It has been two years since I was last able to make my way to the remote area where the weavers live and while I worry about the travel I think about what they have to deal with all the time. My first big surprise of the trip was seeing the new airport in Makassar which is positioning itself for international arrivals in Indonesia!

 

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Back to the Loom and the Land

Tutut and Wenten flying in the small 20 seat plane to Savu

Tutut and Wenten flying in the small 20 seat plane to Savu

Transportation to Savu is always a challenge. You can fly to Savu from Kupang once a week on the small Cassa 212 which has a capacity of 20 people. Or there is the ferry that leaves from Kupang twice a week to Savu. When the winds blow from the west (angin barat) from October to March, it brings high seas and strong winds and the ferries often will not leave port. So Tutut and I felt very lucky this time to get a seat on the airplane to Savu from Kupang.

 

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Lots of Walking in Lamaholot

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Traveling with our friends from Timor-Leste. From left to right Luis, Cecilia and Willy

This year we have made several visits to the islands of Lembata and Adonara in the Lamaholot area east of Flores. There is still one more visit planned before the weavers turn their attention from their weaving to their gardens as the rainy season arrives. The rains will make travel too difficult for us until the next dry season. This trip was made more special by having our friends, Luis and Cecilia from Timor-Leste, along with us. Luis and Cecilia work with the Alola Foundation and are now on an intern program with Threads of Life. We are hoping to share with them some of our knowledge of how to work with traditional weaving groups so that they can do the same work in Timor-Leste.

 

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The United Hearts of Bokong

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Yeruton Sae, Antoneta Sae and Rebeka Melu

Since its founding in 2004, the Nek Mese (United Hearts) cooperative of Bokong in Timor has worked hard and grown dramatically. I still remember when we came searching though this village for weavers and met the three sisters – Rebeka Melu, Antoneta Sae and Dorkas Melu – who we encouraged to form the cooperative.

 

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