Sem BehataWoman's Ceremonial Sarong
The Helong ethnic group of Kupang,in West Timor were the original inhabitants of this area until the settlement of outsiders from Roti and Savu during the Dutch period – when they became the minority and many resettled on the island off Kupang of Semau. (Willi Daos Kadati) In 2008 Thersia Alle Ngaing was in her 60s and one of the last Helong weavers when Threads of Life met her.
Today seven younger women work with Theresia, making their own natural dyes and recovering the clan’s motifs. A sem behata is a woman’s tube skirt, still important in the culture for use as gift exchanges at marriages and funerals.
The central motif on this textile is called Nian klehen. Nian Klehen is a coconut leaf. The coconut tree is very important to the people of Helong as it is used not only for food but as building material. This motif appears at the edge of the textile as a boundary.
This textile is a lovely wall hanging or a throw on a bed or a couch.
Warp ikat, two panels stitched together and sewn as a tube, natural dyes. Ikat tied, dyed, woven by Nelci Ale in Kupang, Timor, 2018.
118 x 67 cm / 46.5 x 26.5 in