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.

SavuDec2008_2As a person of the Dawan ethnic group, I think that the animistic beliefs are the same in both of our cultures: we believe that the elements of the earth, like the cotton and natural dye plants, have a spirit and are “hot“ with life force, so by sacrificing a chicken it is a way of “cooling down“ that force so that no harm can come to the weaver who has used these elements in her textile. Ina Hale told me that after this ritual the textile`s seam should not be undone or the owner would have to sacrifice another chicken.

SavuDec2008_3The Savunese traditional kerogo basket is made from young lontar palm leaves. The basket has two sections: the main section is where the farmer would put rice or corn, and the lid also has a section for the salt and chili that is eaten with the rice or corn. This basket contains the food that a farmer would eat when he or she goes to the field for the day. The basket is waterproof and can be washed out and reused.