Field Notes Sulawesi

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.

But when, after five years of working with the weavers, I see these gorgeous textiles that are being produced now, this difficult trip feels worth it. The arrival of the box was particularly important as we have been trying to get the community to be more pro-active in getting their textiles to us when they are ready, rather than always waiting for me. If the weavers can send us textiles more often, they will have more income spread over the year.

was excited to see that there were not only more of the Sekomandi textiles, which are the large red and blue bold patterned textiles, but that there was a a really nice mud-dyed textile, called a Marilotong with a motif called Ulu Karua Barini is a reference to the eight original traditonal leaders.This large one and a half meter almost square black and white textile is used as a wall hanging on the tradtional houses during ceremonies.

There was also another mud dyed piece that I asked Ibu Lilis to make two years ago, called a Sarita, which uses a batik process. This two meter long textile is used hung on a new traditional house at the time of the house blessing ceremony

But the real prize was seeing that finally I was able to get a Peo Puang textile. This had only been made in the past by Ibu Hermin Sambona, but she died last year of a strange illness. So I asked Ibu Mariati from Salulekke to make one as her family had made them in the past

This three meter banner type textile uses a batik technique on bold red, black and yellow strips of the textile. When the strips are sewn together a chicken must be sacrificed as this textile is still considered ritually very important to the people of Karataun.