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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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Hadi Wiyono – Dedicated to Art and Tradition

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Lolet and Putra Susangka made their way to the home of one of the last stamp makers for the batik art in Java

Lolet and I traveled to Java to meet with batik artists working with Threads of Life. We made a detour to visit Hadi Wiyono in Yogjakarta. Hadi is one of the few remaining well-known stamp makers in Java. These stamps are used in the production of batiks and were introduced by the Dutch to speed up production.

 

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The Simple but Profound Textiles of Adonara

For years I have passed by the island of Adonara on my way to Lembata

For years I have passed by the island of Adonara on my way to Lembata

At least twice a year I make the trip to Lembata to meet with weavers’ groups. We always take a ferry that leaves from Larantuka, Flores and pass the islands of Adonara and Solor on our way. This June was the first time I actually visited the island of Adonara. To me there is a remarkable difference between Lembata and Adonara, Lembata being dry and barren and Adonara being more fertile.

 

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Tapobali, a New Village Living with the Old Ways

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A Kreot Nai Telon three part textile used in the ritual gift exchange at marriage

Tapobali was officially recognized as a village by the Indonesian government in March 2008. This village is actually comprised of five different clan settlements who have lived in this area for centuries. Most of the population are seasonal farmers and fishermen. The women weave when they are not in the fields tending their gardens as traditional textiles are still being made as part of the ritual gift exchange at the time of marriage.

There are two types of textiles that are used at this ritual exchange; the Kreot Nai Telon (made of three widths of textile sewn together) and the Kreot Nai Juan (made of two widths).

 

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Wise Steps Towards Revitalizing The Traditional Textiles of Belu

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The weavers of Loo Neke in Belu are always eager to see us. Mama Rosa built this house from her textile sales to Threads of Life

I have been visiting the various areas of West Timor now for the past two years and there is one area where the weavers really stands out in my experience. This is in Loo Neke, in the regency of Belu. I find that the weavers here have a certain light! They are always eager to receive us when we visit and enjoy laughing and joking with us. Usually all of the members of the weaving group show up for our visit and are eager to share their challenges and successes.

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Threads of Life and the Fundasaun Alola Working together to Revive the Traditional Textiles of Timor Leste

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Fundasaun Alola works with women and children in Timor Leste

Timor Leste is the very poor eastern end of the island of Timor that gained independence from Indonesia in 1999. Fundasaun Alola works with women and children in Timor Leste in the areas of maternal and child health, education, economic development and advocacy. Alola’s motto is “”Strong Women Strong Nation””, to give women a voice for change in the new nation. (www.Alolafoundation.org)

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The Blue of Hamba Praing

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Full moon over the coastal plain at the end of the monsoon

The coastal road west of East Sumba’s main town of Waingapu sees little traffic. The villages are few and far between on a coastal plain that slopes up from the foreshore’s mangroves to the foot of an escarpment. Houses are surrounded by fenced cornfields, but most of the thin and rocky soil is given to savannah grasses and the livestock that they feed. Indigo (indigofera tinctoria) is also grown, and where it is seen, weavers and dyers are sure to be found.

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Savu and Rai Jua Revisited After Ten Years

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The beauty and delicacy of the Savunese women and their textiles

The last time I visited the small islands of Savu and Rai Jua was ten years ago with a group of textile enthusiasts who joined us aboard the Perintis, a buginese schooner designed to bring small tour groups to the outer islands. I have vivid memories of the rich culture we saw: the gorgeous women and their textiles, the delicate dances and enchanting traditional songs. Making the trip to Savu and Rai Jua in May this year was like returning to a dream, as I have carried the memory of these islands in hopes of returning to deepen my understanding.

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The Songkets of Singaraja

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Lontar palm tapper

I was born in the village of Bondalem in Singaraja on the north part of Bali. My father is a farmer. As this area is so dry, we are unable to grow rice, so my father taps the sap from lontar palms for making both palm wine and palm sugar and provides my family with a small income. When I visit weavers on other islands like Savu and Timor where many of the farmers are also tapping lontar palms, I feel very much at home!

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