2011 Field Notes
- North Sumatra, November 2011
- Bokong, West Timor, November 2011
- Putussibau, West Kalimantan, October 2011
- Flores, Ile Mandiri, Sept 2011
- Ubud, Bali, July 2011
- Sulawesi, May 2011
- Belu, Timor, April 2011
- Sumba, March 2011
- Fais Island, March 2011
- Guam, March 2011
- Sumatra, February 2011
- West Kalimantan, February 2011
2010 Field Notes
- Savu, December 2010
- Bayan, Lombok, October 2010
- Laen Manen Belu, Timor, July 2010
- Nggela, Flores, July 2010
- West Timor, July 2010
- Kalimantan, April 2010
- Nggela, April 2010
- Lombok, April 2010
2009 Field Notes
- Sukarara and Bayan Beleg, Lombok, November 2009
- Java, November 2009
- Nggela, Flores, October 2009
- Savu, September 2009
- Sulawesi, September 2009
- Oecusi, Timor Leste, September 2009
- Bokong, Timor, August 2009
- Lembata & Adonara, August 2009
- Seraya, Bali, June 2009
- Tapobali, Lembata, June 2009
- Adonara, June 2009
- Java, June 2009
- Sumba, May 2009
- Timor Leste, May 2009
- Belu, Timor, May 2009
- Savu, April 2009
- Nggela, Flores, April 2009
- PEKKA workshop, March 2009
- Singaraja, Bali , March 2009
- Nusa Penida, Bali, February 2009
- Negara, Bali, February 2009
- Sulawesi, February 2009
2008 Field Notes
Field Notes Savu
Savu to Rai Jua
By Jean Howe
Trying to schedule a trip to Savu and Rai Jua islands is always a challenge - the timing needs to be such that it is late enough in the year so that the weavers have completed their textile work but not too late so that we have angin barat (the West Wind) where the seas are so high we cannot make sea crossings.
Seas around Timor and Savu are often very calm before the change of monsoon
When we arrived this year we found that there had been no rains for almost 13 months. The rivers were dry and water was scarce. This is the time of the year when most people rely on the nectar tapped from lontar palms for nourishment.
The lontar palm inflorescences are tapped for their very nutritious nectar
As little can be done in the fields until the rains come, the weavers had been concentrating on their weavings. We were happy to find a good supply of textiles and the weavers were delighted with the sales that would help them through the hard times.
Pung with Savunese weavers in Mehara
One of the difficulties for most of our weavers throughout the eastern islands is finding enough natural resources, particularly the Morinda roots to harvest for their red dye work. While many communities we work with have planted a large number of Morinda trees since we began to work with them, cultivation on Savu has been slowed by the climate and the new trees are not yet old enough to harvest. Pung and I decided to take two weavers from Seba on Savu to the island of Rai Jua as Rai Jua has a big population of Morinda trees. These trees are not being harvested as the local weavers do little red dye work. We hope that a trade arrangement could be set up between these two islands for Morinda.
Approaching Rai Jua with hopes of establishing a trade in
Morinda between weavers from Savu
and weavers from Rai Jua
Thinking that we may need to do some traveling around Rai Jua, we brought the motorbikes we were using on Savu. When we arrived at Rai Jua, the pier was many meters above the deck of the boat! To off-load the bikes we had to pay some of the fishing people to help maneuver the bikes off the boat by using a pulley system and sheer physical strength. It was amazing to me!
Maneuvering motorbikes off the deck
of our boat to the pier at Rai Jua
Arriving at the home of the weavers we work with on Rai Jua we found out that one of the Savu weavers we had brought with us, Ina Bunga, has an old clan relationship with weaver Greateda Kona Koy's husband. We hope that this kinship will allow Ina Bunga and her weaving group to buy badly needed Morinda root.
Greateda Kana Koy's husband on Rai Jua has an
old clan relationship with Ina Bunga of Savu
Greateda and her family do not use the roots of Morinda for red dyeing any more. Most of the dye work they do is using chemical dyes except for the indigo blue sarongs called Ai Pudi that they make for Threads of Life.
Rai Jua weavers with indigo blue Ai Pudi textiles
As there are very few weavers making these Ai Pudi textiles we are lucky if we are able to buy ten per year. The Ai Pudi employs a shibori-type process that is done at the very end of the dye work with these textiles. The textileis woven with bands of solid blue and white. Then a pattern of sorghum grains is tied into the white bands of the cloth. The ties that bind these grains resist a final indigo dyeing, leaving small uneven white circles at the foot of the textile when the bindings are opened.
Indigo hands pick open the bindings that held
the sorghum grains to create
a pattern of white circles on the textile
As we headed back to Savu on the boat in the late afternoon, we talked with the Savu weavers about rain and children, and the future of Savu and its traditional culture. Much change is soon to come now that the island has become its own regency (the tertiary level of Indonesian government administration). We all wondered about the impacts and talked of how the old ways are being abandoned. As we passed a beautiful old ritual site on the way to Mehara we were told that the site's custodians have converted to Christianity and most of the men have left to work in Malaysia. These next years will be interesting for Threads of Life and the weavers of Savu and Rai Jua.
Old abandoned ritual site on Savu