Kwatek Nai Telo

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Textile and ivory for a marriage exchange, Lewobela market, Lembata.

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 allkwatek 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.

  • 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

Kwatek Nai Rua

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Kristina Krofa’s prosperity sets and example for the village.

Kristina Krofa’s prosperity sets and example for the village.

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 ivory. The bride’s clan offers soft goods, such as this kwatek nai rua. The weavers of Lamalera follow a strict hierarchy, based on each woman’s accomplishments. A kwatek nai rua, made from two lengths of handspun cotton fabric, is a major achievement, and a step up the ladder towards the next test: a kwatek nai telo, made from three lengths. Even today, no weaver may make a telo who has not already proven herself with a rua. Kristina Krofa is Lamalera’s top textile artist, but even she has not yet completed a five-part piece, the crowning accomplishment of a Lembata weaver. She decorated this rua with images from everyday life in her village, such as the moku, or manta ray, and the kelape, the boat-builder’s toolbox.

  • Tubular Skirt for Ceremonial Exchange
  • 2007
  • Tied, dyed, and woven by Kristina Prami Krofa
  • Lamalera village, Lembata
  • Warp ikat
  • Handspun cotton, natural dyes
  • 76 x 141 cm. (30 x 55.5 in)
  • Code # T.LE.CB.269
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