Travels to SUMBA, TIMOR, FLORES and SULAWESI
Another fabulous trip in search of textiles with Serena Lee of Textile Odyssey tours began in August 2016 from Bali to another Indonesian island –SUMBA. We went to WAINGPU first and our guide, Freddy, was a weaver, collector and owner of a weaving workshop as well as a resort villa and restaurant. He also had a shop with a great collection called Indigo Art. We observed several men working on indigo ikats – drawing the designs on the yarns and tieing the designs with palm leaf fiber and weaving. In his shop we saw wonderful examples with lots of motifs – crocodiles, roosters, cockatoos, horses, dancers, turtles, nagas, monkeys and lots of fertility symbols called mamuli.
Our next village visit was to KAILUI where the women make indigo dye and weave on a back strap loom. They use lime and soda ash for a mordant and only women are allowed to make the dye which is a very messy process. There were lots of kids and barn animals all round.
In MAULIRU and UMABARU we saw lots of large carved grave stones, people weaving songket (a supplemental warp) using bamboo sticks and reeds and people selling textiles at the King’s house where we had to sign in.
From SUMBA we flew to KUPANG, capital of TIMOR island. We drove to BAUN province and met the King who learned complex dyeing techniques from his mother, some of which are secret. We were charmed by him, his lovely wife and their granddaughter. From there were went to a weaving village in Baun called AMARISI. We were met with singing, dancing, and textile spinning, dyeing and weaving demos by the friendly people. My favorite moment was when they sang “In those old cotton fields back home” They are known for their morinda dye – a reddish brown from the roots of a tree.
Our next stop was OEBELO village of people from Roti island near Timor. They were known for making a musical instrument called a sasando – similar to a harp or lute in sound. It is made from bamboo and palm leaf with 12 strings from goat intestine. We were given a demonstration and a concert with dancing. The men wore hats made from palm leaf like a cowboy hat with a horn on it. They amplified the sasando and serenaded us with songs including Country Roads which we all sang along to – our group and a group of high school students there from Taiwan who knew all the words! They also sold some ikats by the Ndao people on a nearby island.
From there to BENLUTU where we met a regal older woman named Fransina Baok who brought the Amunaban style weaving to the village. We saw weaving demonstrations by her daughters and nieces. This group of weavers is called Kelompok Ora Etia Bora and Buna style – a discontinuous supplementary weft- is what they are known for.
Our next village was FUTUMNASI in the Molo Valley we were met by the king and his young dancers. These friendly people gave us weaving and dyeing demonstrations. They use indigo, cassuarina for red and turmeric for yellow. They also had a gourd-like fruit they grated for yellow and ground corn for mordant. Their textiles were called Bunak.
In KEFAMENANU we saw more Bunak textiles at the Papean Pak Coorperative – one of 14 weaving co-ops in the area started in 1989 by Ibu Yoirta Meta. They support women and young girls by providing access to thread and dye, training in weaving, dyeing and design. We also saw a wonderful collection of traditional Boboki textiles
Our last stop in Timor was NIKI NIKI in Amanuban Regency and the village of None. The bare chested men did a warrior dance for us and told us about their history, traditions and their ancestors who were headhunters.
Our next island was FLORES where we went to the village of Bena where the Ngada people, a matrilineal society, still practice animism in spite of the prevalence of the Catholic religion there. It is a national park and we saw some weavers and indigo dyers.
The last island of the trip was Sulawesi. We landed in Makassar where we saw some dyeing. Then we went to Toraja land, known for their elaborate funerals which we were lucky enough to be invited to. They last for days. We went to the bull and water buffalo market first and then to the funeral. There were elaborate tents with textiles and the relatives were very dressed up in their best textiles and they even had costumed dancers.
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