Textiles with over 2,000 years of history. These naturally dyed textiles are the latest evolutions of living traditions, re-imagined by the indigenous women who weave them. Sophisticated and elegant, they make an incredible addition to your home.
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Threads of Life works directly with over 1000 women in more than 35 cooperatives across Indonesia’s Islands from Timor to Kalimantan. The common question among these cooperatives is “How do we maintain our culture and identity and make a living at the same time?” Threads of Life connects weavers and artisans to the wider world, helping rural communities take advantage of market access and develop their independent businesses for growth, environmental sustainability, and cultural integrity.
Traditional weavers often live in villages too remote to enjoy the benefits of mainstream economic development. Many earn less than 50 cents a day, or migrate in search of work. Government services and social safety nets do not reach the neediest communities. Instead, villagers depend on traditional communal systems, reinforced in part by the use of traditional textiles. The support of Threads of Life can turn this poverty trap on its head. As incomes rise above the $2-a-day poverty line, young women choose to remain in the village and weave, rather than leave in search of work. As the community prospers, pride in local traditions swells and the communal support system grows stronger.
As marriage gifts and everyday wear, as offerings to the ancestors or trade goods for cash or barter, traditional textiles have played integral parts in the social, spiritual, and economic lives of the peoples of Indonesia for more than 2,000 years.
Threads of Life encourages weaving communities to revive techniques of weaving and natural dyeing that are in danger of disappearing. We provide economic and technical support while cooperatives research and rediscover local practices, a process that can take years to complete. The result is a sustainable, natural, traditional method of textile production, with complete cultural integrity. The process and the results move the weavers to great pride of ownership, and inspire the extraordinary quality of their work.
Building livelihoods for indigenous weavers is the foundation of everything Threads of Life does. If the economics of making traditional textiles does not work, all other aspirations come to nothing. Threads of Life has to pay enough to incentivise weavers to do their best work, but must not inflate the local market to the point that a community can no longer afford to use its textiles for their cultural purposes. And we must avoid raising prices only for those who work with use, as this encourages weavers to stop weaving and become traders instead.
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