I am facinated by the hands of this old lady with the fingers of fairy. (Flores, Indonesia, July 2011)
I am facinated by the hands of this old lady with the fingers of fairy. (Flores, Indonesia, July 2011)

Ikat weavers

#Flores # Indonesia

Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic Google translation from a post originally written in French. My apologies for the weird sentences and the funny mistakes that could gave been generated during the process. If you can read French, the original and correct version can be found here:

  Indonesia: Flores + Komodo + Bali - July 2011

I will take you back to the mainland on the Indonesian island of Flores. If, like me, you cross the island, you will meet many people wearing traditional fabrics called ikat, very beautiful, whose patterns and colors differ from one region to another.

The ikat, traditional weaving of Flores

Word ikat is actually a weaving and dyeing technique, typical of this region of Indonesia. I refer you to the Wikipedia article about ikat.

In Flores, it's not fair folklore of another age or tourism craft. Even if, of course, the sale to foreign visitors constitutes a significant source of income, especially for the inhabitants of the traditional villages of the magnificent region of Bajawa, where many tourists stop. But in real life, people wear ikat.

I've seen it everywhere, in the markets, in the villages. It is especially the old ladies who wear it.

I also met some men, an ikat around the kidneys. There are lots of ways to tie the ikat and wind in it, it can indifferently turn into a coat, shawl, skirt, sarong or baby carrier ...

A woman carrying Ikat on a street in Maumere. (Flores, Indonesia, July 2011)
A woman carrying Ikat on a street in Maumere. (Flores, Indonesia, July 2011)
Old lady wearing ikat, at Maumere market. (Flores, Indonesia, July 2011)
Old lady wearing ikat, at Maumere market. (Flores, Indonesia, July 2011)
Ikat merchant behind the vegetable stalls at the Maumere market. (Flores, Indonesia, July 2011)
Ikat merchant behind the vegetable stalls at the Maumere market. (Flores, Indonesia, July 2011)
Two young women wearing traditional ikat, near Maumere. (Flores, Indonesia, July 2011)
Two young women wearing traditional ikat, near Maumere. (Flores, Indonesia, July 2011)
Ikat weaver. (Flores, Indonesia, July 2011)
Ikat weaver. (Flores, Indonesia, July 2011)
Ikats in a traditional tourist village. (Flores, Indonesia, July 2011)
Ikats in a traditional tourist village. (Flores, Indonesia, July 2011)

It is a fabric that is expensive, up to 1 million rupees (about 80 €) for the most beautiful pieces. Related to the standard of living of the island, it's a hell of a lot. In the past, the dimensions, colors and designs of an ikat also reflected the social status of the wearer.

An ikat, it takes a lot of time to make, from several weeks to several months, because it is necessary to dye each weft thread in specific places, to form the future patterns, before the actual weaving. The most beautiful ikats are reserved for important occasions, ceremonies and family reunions.

Weaving ikat, a woman's job

Misir, my driver-guide, who made me discover Flores from east to west, stopped at a moment with a family of his acquaintance, so that I could observe a weaver in full action.

Nice people. The old lady very willingly agreed that I take her picture, with big smiles, while kindly lecturing the children intimidated by my presence.

I am facinated by the hands of this old lady with the fingers of fairy. (Flores, Indonesia, July 2011)
I am facinated by the hands of this old lady with the fingers of fairy. (Flores, Indonesia, July 2011)
The girls, intimidated, observe me with gravity. (Flores, Indonesia, July 2011)
The girls, intimidated, observe me with gravity. (Flores, Indonesia, July 2011)
(Flores, Indonesia, July 2011)
(Flores, Indonesia, July 2011)
The colored threads intertwine with the black threads on the loom. (Flores, Indonesia, July 2011)
The colored threads intertwine with the black threads on the loom. (Flores, Indonesia, July 2011)
The old lady stops weaving for a moment to make me a big smile, mouth closed, avoiding to show my goal gums and teeth reddened by the areca nut that chew all the old. (Flores, Indonesia, July 2011)
The old lady stops weaving for a moment to make me a big smile, mouth closed, avoiding to show my goal gums and teeth reddened by the areca nut that chew all the old. (Flores, Indonesia, July 2011)

The weaving of the ikat is "obviously" a woman's work. It takes one to several weeks to weave a large canvas. In the traditional villages visited by tourists, women make smaller, way-table decorations, which they can sell more easily as souvenirs.

I have long observed the peaceful and patient work of this old lady, seated on the dusty floor, literally attached to her loom by a wooden strap and fabric in the back.

I do not particularly like traditional crafts and it's been a long time since I bring back more "memories" of my travels in Indonesia. But this job forces my admiration. It seems incredibly complex: it is necessary to color the threads in the right place, in advance, and do not go wrong by arranging the frame, to reconstruct sometimes very elaborate drawings ...

I was a little sorry to be already too busy, question baggage, by my diving bardas and my camera equipment. Otherwise, for once, I would have let myself try to bring back one of these beautiful fabrics, which really remain, in my mind, the symbol of Flores and the Small Islands of the Sunda.

😉

  Indonesia: Flores + Komodo + Bali - July 2011

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