Eastern Flores with highlands and sea in background

During the latter half of May, Tutut, Leah Uhe (our AVI -Australian Volunteer International) and myself made our second visit to the Maumere area in eastern Flores to meet with Daniel David of Nani House. Nani House is one of the local partner organizations that Bebali Foundation is working with to trial our knowledge management system called CELLS (Cultural Ecology Livelihood Learning Systems).

 

We wanted to meet some of the local weaving groups that Daniel and Nani House are working with to understand better how CELLS can serve them. Daniel and Nani House work with 12 local weaving groups in Eastern Flores across several cultural groups. These cultural groups include Iwang Gete in the highlands, Sikka on the south coast, Tana Ai in a mountainous area east of Maumere, Palu’e from an island off the north coast, and Lio which is to the west of Maumere. In the past we have referred to this whole area as Sikka, but we are learning that this is not representative of the cultural groups and how they define themselves.

Traditional textile from Tana Ai
Daniel David works with 12 natural dye traditional weavers groups in eastern Flores

We were so impressed with the work that Daniel is doing in this region and that he holds the same vision and mission as Bebali Foundation and Threads of Life, which is to support the continuation of natural dyed textiles and textile culture in Eastern Flores. He speaks to the various groups with authority as a business owner and respect as a peer who originates from the Iwang Gete cultural group. We saw that he was well respected and that weavers are eager to work with Daniel and Nani house as a way of getting their textiles to a wider market.

We have been visiting this part of Flores for 20 years and working with Daniel off and on for 15 years. I noticed that Maumere has experienced a visible decline in tourism since the subsidies were removed from airline ticket prices last year and it now costs as much as US$ 280 round trip from Denpasar, Bali, to Maumere, Flores. I felt that we were traveling back in time, visiting this area where road traffic is non-existent on the road from Maumere to Larantuka and roads are generally very quiet. The hotels cater now to local government staff and NGOs as backpackers seldom come through this area.

Twenty years ago, textiles in the Maumere market would have been primarily made using natural dyes
Weavers working on textiles for sale to the Jakarta market using natural dyes and traditional motifs

This decline has led to a decline in the sale of natural dyed traditional textiles as well, and weavers are now more than ever dependent on Daniel David and Nani House for access to market. This is yet another crisis threatening the continuity of this art. Daniel will be re-selling textiles to Threads of Life and he often takes textiles to sell in Jakarta at exhibitions.

While textiles from this area will continue to be sold at Threads of Life Gallery, we highly recommend contacting Nani House directly if you are interested in buying Eastern Flores textiles. Daniel also will assist with a placement to learn weaving and dyeing from traditional weavers. It is lovely to be located high up in the hills only an hour outside of Maumere, where you can enjoy spending time leaning from weavers. Guests may arrange to stay anywhere from 3 days to weeks in the community, sleeping in comfortable simple housing and eating fantastic locally made food. Daniel’s contact is nanihouse18@gmail.com or What’s App +62-812-3980-1199.

A weavers group working with Nani House from the Palu'e cultural group on Palu'e Island
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