Songket from Bali


Sidemen, Bali

Songket is a supplementary weft technique, the motif being created in the base weave during weaving. The pattern is defined by up to four hundred extra heddles. Each of these lifts only those warp threads under which the supplementary weft must pass at a given point in the design. As weaving progresses, the pattern heddle in use changes and the design develops. Paired songket are worn by both sexes as wedding attire or during tooth filing rituals.

This motif on this cloth is of the dragon Naga Basuki, who along with Naga Ananta Boga, resides on the back of the turtle Bedawang Nala that forms the foundation of the world. Upon the turtle and these naga rests the island of Bali. Naga Basuki is the guardian of water while Naga Ananta Boga balances the element of fire so that the universe is not dry and arid. Together, they maintain fertility of the land. Naga Basuki in this cloth is depicted with a flaming tongue. A long, involved story is told of the spoiled son of a magician in Java who comes to Bali to steal the crown of Naga Basuki. Naga Basuki cuts him down with his flaming tongue and retrieves his crown. It is a reminder to us that we must curb our craving for material wealth in life and respect the importance of balance in the natural world.

Supplementary weft patterning, two panels sewn together, silk threads used as base with cotton threads as patterning, natural dyes. Pattern maker and weaver from Sideman, Bali, 2020.

188 x 104 cm / 188 x 41 in