Weaving Bali’s Traditional Heritage

October 01, 2018

The beauty of Indonesian textiles is boundless. Its bright colors and intricate patterns still a part of everyday rural lives, including in Bali as ceremonies are held frequently attended by men and women attired in traditional garments. The patterns signifying various symbolism, from cultural to religious, as well as signaling one’s status in society.

The most popular traditional textiles—and perhaps most widely used across the archipelago—is the batik, which is not a motif but actually the name of the design technique utilizing wax and wax-resistant color dyeing. But batik is all about designing patterns on top of a piece of cloth, while the local Ikat textiles are way more complicated in terms of the process. Ikat (or “to bind” in Indonesian) is a hand-spun and hand-weaved technique on which pattern is dyed into the thread prior to the weaving process. The ikat threads are bound in a pattern so that the threads covered by the binding resist the dye, creating a design. The more binding is done before weaving, the more complicated the pattern. A more complicated technique is the double Ikat where both the warp and weft threads are dyed.

The time-consuming process to create a piece of cloth deemed the real artisans a rare “breed”, luckily a few good Samaritans are holding down the fort to conserve the artform. You’ll find an eclectic collection of fine traditional textiles in Threads of Life Jl. Kajeng No.24, Ubud; Phone: +62 361 972187; threadsoflife.com), their modest showroom has an air of a mini-museum as rows of the textiles are arranged neatly with a sufficiently explanatory signage detailing every piece.

Over 650 pieces in the archive, held in a museum-standard conservation facility.

The gallery practices fair trade business and collaborates with weavers in Bali’s rural eastern regions of Sidemen, Seraya, and the island of Nusa Penida, the proceeds of the sales goes to empowering and supporting the livelihood of these local artisans, thus ensuring the preservation of the craft. It’s an immaculate and exquisite collection, with vivid colors that stem from natural dyes extracted from indigenous floras like the noni or Morinda citrifolia fruit. Due to the painstaking Ikat process and the use of natural dyes, the items on the shop fall into the collectible category with prices start from USD 500 and more for rare and exotic items. If you want to know more about the craft, you can sign up for their regular class about the history of Indonesian textiles and natural dye process.

For more premium collection, other recommended spots in Ubud are Ikat Batik Ubud (Jl. Monkey Forest; www.ikatbatik.com) and Tenun Ikat Setia Cili (Jl. Ciung Wanara, Gianyar), the latter where you can see women artisans weaving the cloth with looms at the back of the shop. However, for a more wide-ranging price, take a stroll at the Sukawati Market (around 25 minutes from Ubud). Though perhaps more renowned for its artwork scene, you may find quality Ikat textiles made by the region’s artisans with the most expensive one is around 1.5 million. Or you can also visit the village of Sidemen, to the south of Ubud, to get your hands on their version of Ikat known as endek with intricate motifs ranging from the local flora and fauna to mythological Balinese figures that are worn mostly for religious ceremonies.


House of Bali Bloggers. Powered by Blogger.