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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PEKKA Workshop: The Women Headed Household Empowerment Program visits Threads of Life

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Sukartini , Asih and Pauziah from the PEKKA groups on the island of Lombok

Over three days in March 2009, Threads of Life and the YPBB Foundation hosted a group from PEKKA, the Women Headed Household Empowerment Program (http://www.pekka.or.id), to explore the potential for improving the marketing of the traditional textiles produced by their members’. PEKKA operates in eight Indonesian provinces, reaching more than three hundred poor villages, and has established hundreds of grassroots women’s organizations that collectively own several micro financial institutions.

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Field Notes Sulawesi

Slide 1     How exciting to have a box of textiles arrive at Threads of Life office from the weavers of Karataun, central Sulawesi this week! Karataun is the most remote area Threads of Life works in. I have to fly from Bali to Makassar, then take a ten hour bus drive, then another day ride in a battered jeep crossing rivers using motorized dugout canoes, and just going until the roads run out. At this point Daud (our Torajan field staff) and I switch to motorbikes for another day, and then walk the final distance. Its about three days in total to get there.

 

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A Stitch in Time

SavuDec2008_1I have always wondered about the interesting stitching at the head and foot of each Savu sarong textile. This last trip I asked Ina Hale in Namata, who is a member of the Hawu Miha weaver group. She told me that this stitching is calledbunga wurumada. Bunga means decoration or flower andwarumada refers to the head and foot of the textile. It indicates that the weaver has taken responsibility for completing the textile, both technically and ritually. After the textile is taken off the loom, the warp threads are cut and then the two ends are sewn together to create a tube sarong worn by a woman. Before sewing the textile, the weaver must sacrifice a chicken. Continue reading »

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