Leonardus Wou Kurry was a cultural enthusiast, committed to reviving stories and myths related to Bajawan textiles. Leo commissioned this textile after making the arduous trek to another area of Ngada called Lopijo where he spent time talking to weavers and cultural leaders. When he returned to his own village he was inspired to integrate a pattern he had seen in Lopijo, the buku tewu into this lawo woman’s sarong.
Leonardus prepared eighty synthetic dyed textiles with this motif for dancers to wear during the planting ceremony (reba). Shortly after this Leonardus became very ill and, despite consulting several doctors, was not recovering. Eventually he saw a paranormal who told him his sickness was caused by using a motif from Lopijo without permission. Keeping this in mind, Leo completed the lawo textile seen here, after which a purification ceremony (kelanino) was performed to purify him and obtain blessings from the ancestor – which restored his health.
The traditional lawo butu beaded sarongs are sacred to the people of Bajawa. Rarely seen, they are only worn by female clan elders during dances to bless a new clan house or ngadhu ancestral shrine. Sewn into a tube, a lawo butu is worn high, under the arm-pits with the top of the tube fastened front-to-back over the shoulders by a series of ties. Gathered at the back, the body of the sarong is cinched in at the waist with a sash. If an old Lawo butu is too timeworn to wear it will be draped over the shoulder instead. Should the textile become unusable the clan leader will commission a new piece from an appropriately gifted weaver.
The central beaded motif in most lawo butu is either a boat or a series of ancestral figures. The boat, called a kowa in Bajawan, relates to a myth concerning the migration of the Bajawan people to Flores from the far west.
Lawo kapa is a three-part textile sewn into a tube and worn by a woman in the village of Nggela. This textile is considered to be a new creation. Kapa refers to a ship and may be called a lawo kapa ria as a large ship or kapa lo’o as a small ship. This type of textile with the small or large ship motif was first created by Nenek (grandmother) Toja seven to eight generations ago.
Lawo Singi One
Lawo Singi One is a three-part textile sewn into a tube and worn by a woman of the Lio-Ende ethnic group. The name refers to the structure of the cloth; in that the central motif has bands around the central motif.
Lipa is the name for a man’s dress sarong. There are two types of man’s sarongs; lipa merak matan pitu which is a simple striped textile. The lipa merak loen peten is predominantly red and contains a weft ikat motif. The word lipa likely comes from the Indonesian word lipat which means “to fold” and is a reference to the checkered, folded commercially made textiles made in Sulawesi and sold throughout Indonesia.
The traditional shoulder cloth for a man is called Lu’e. It usually has very subtle bands of white ikat dashes and often horse motifs in bands on the cloth. The textile was dyed all dark blue which is typical of Ngadha textiles.
Keru is worn as a belt by the men of Bajawa as part of their traditional dress. The keru may be beaded or woven with small ikat patterning of horses. The textile was dyed to dark blue black which is typical of Ngadha textiles.
The one or two-panel man’s textile called semba was originally worn as a hip cloth, but is now worn as a shoulder cloth by Lio -Ende people. A semba would only be worn by a mosalaki (adat leader) who has authority over land use within traditional communities. Today, semba is also worn by worn by dancers as a shoulder cloth.
Met is a woman or man’s belt used for ceremonies such as weddings as well as a ceremony called Rengki which take place in the korke or traditional house in the ancestral site of Lewokluok.
Senai is a single panel shoulder cloth and is worn for special ceremonies by women from the ethnic group Ende-Lio in Ndona, Central Flores.
Kreot beloge is the most highly regarded two-part ritual woman’s sarong in Eastern Flores. It is used as part of the gift exchange at marriage. It has a base red colour with bands of ikat patterning at the head and foot and is decorated with small shells sewn onto the cloth. It is the most highly regarded two-part ritual woman’s tubular sarong made.
Kreot Mowak Miten
Kreot mowak miten is a two-part ceremonial woman’s sarong in Eastern Flores. It contains small ikat patterns on a blue-black (miten) background. It is always paired with the red kreot beloge textile that has the shells sewn on to it. It is used as the ritual gift exchange at marriage.
The two-part woman’s tubular sarong from Sikka Flores is called a utan hawatan. The textile is symbolic of fertility and contains an inherent agreement that the woman and her family will be respected and honoured by the man’s family. An utan hawatan would be worn by a young woman in her child bearing years.
Utan Wiri Wanan
The utan wiri wanan textile is a woman’s four-part tubular sarong from Sikka Flores and is used at a weddings during a ritual called roa muu. During this ritual, a young man from the groom’s family will dance around a banana tree where the utan wiri wanan is hung. As he slowly circles and cuts down the tree, eventually he captures the sarong – this ritual symbolises fertility.