Kwatek Nai Telo
Tubular Skirt for Ceremonial Exchange (2006)
- Tied, dyed, and woven by Kristina Prami Krofa
- Lamalera village, Lembata
- Warp ikat
- Handspun cotton, natural dyes
- 75 x 163 cm. (29.5 x 64 in)
- Code # T.LE.CB.182
Textile and ivory for
a marriage exchange, Lewobela market, Lembata
A series of traditional, ritualized gift exchanges accompanies marriage in Lembata, a small island between Flores and Timor. The family of the groom offers hard goods like gold, silver, and elephant tusks, many of which date from the spice trade and have been traded at innumerable weddings. The bride’s clan offers soft goods, such as this kwatek nai telo.
No one ever wears these bridewealth textiles. Kwatek
have an almost purely symbolic value, expressing the qualities of the women who made them and the strength of the marriage bond. In Lamalera, the warp threads of all kwatek nai telo
remain uncut. Locals call these uncut threads hairs, and they occasionally snip one off and mix it into traditional medicines. Kwatek
are always made from richly textured handspun thread. Women spin the thread on drop spindles as they walk to the fields or sit in the marketplace.