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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Young Weavers Take Up the Art of Weaving Natural Dyed Textiles

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Ni Wayan Asmini is new to the group Karya Sari Warna Alam

Visiting the weaving group Karya Sari Warna Alam in Seraya on East Bali is unlike visiting any other place for me. Every time I visit there is so much activity! Young women are busy weaving together in the community center, while others are dyeing or tending to the dye plants that grow around the center. The weaving center was built in 2005 with donations from the Hong Kong Textile Society and is a heart of activity for the group.

 

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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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The Rain Cloths of Nggela, Flores

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The traditional compound of Nggela, Flores

Threads of Life staff have been visiting the village of Ngella in central Flores for over a year, learning about the village’s textile traditions and searching for weavers to work with. Looking at their photos and pictures from books, I imagined a community that still retained an intact culture with traditional houses standing side by side, each built with different structural levels depicting the realms of diety and humans in their architecture; each house with characteristics that defined the status of its occupant from the highest to the lowest class.

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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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