Tuesday, May 06, 2008

geringsing from Tenganan

double ikat

Years ago i took the epitome of a weaving trip as i went to Bali. Every activity during my stay was textile oriented and whatever else happened, well, it happened and was extra. i had done a lot of reading beforehand including re reading that gem of a book The Dyer's Art by Larsen. Published in 1976 (wow! that long ago!) it was my first educated encounter with dyeing and pattern making.

During the trip i was fortunate to visit many ateliers and take slides of the different textile processes such as weaving, dyeing, batik, plangi, which is akin to tie dye, ikat and the king- double ikat. i had an urge to see the double ikats of Tenganan as the books mentioned it was a dying -note the spelling- :) craft

We left Ubud our home base, and headed to Candidasa beach which was close to Tenganan.
It was a pleasant motorbike ride from the the hotel in Candidasa to the village of Tenganan where the Aga people live and weave. Tenganan is very picturesque and still maintains old traditions like closing the town gates and the wonderfully colored roosters. There are lots of artisans still carrying on traditional crafts and living with very few concessions to modernity.

My interest was weaving, but was pleasantly surprised with the gorgeous basketry and purchased some.
Purchases are carried the old way, slowly and over numerous cups of tea. Bargaining is expected and not doing it is an act of rudeness. i could not bring myself to haggle over the prices which were far more than reasonable, but had to show good breeding.

i visited a family atelier and they were kind enough to let me take slides of the whole process as they were dyeing and preparing a warp. i got detailed explanations of every step of the process and they answered all my questions. Even the dumb ones like where do you buy your dyes especially the indigo. That one in particular caused a lot of giggling and i was showed to the backyard where indigo plants grew almost wild! Next day the man was at my hotel with a bagful of indigo leaves that unfortunately i had to leave behind. i still have not recovered from that.

From the family i bought the double ikat which illustrates this post. It was an old shroud woven for a member of the family that for some reason had not been used so it remained uncut. It is woven in relatively thick, about size 20, Indonesian grown cotton and dyed in vegetable dyes whose original names i can't recall.


i also fell in love with the most beautiful textile object i had ever seen so far.warp chain This warp chain with a bamboo leaf heddle bar. Each warp thread is picked by a continuous thread forming heddles and the threads in turn are picked by the bamboo leaf. Even the garish acrylic tie yarn adds to the piece. Beauty in simplicity.

i went crazy buying textiles in Bali. As the Balinese are genetically incapable of bad taste even goods for the tourist trade are attractive and not blatant. The rest of the production starts quickly getting star ratings. If you see something that makes you frown chances are that there is a foreigner running the business and the Balinese being directed in their production.

My husband got hit by the textile fever too and had some shirts made from beautiful cotton silk ikat fabrics that he picked himself. The beauty is that we still wear those clothes. And i cherish my ikat fabrics.
If one summer during a trip you see a lady wearing an ikat sarong do come and say hi. :)

neki desu


  1. i have one of these. it was a gift. i blogged about it awhile back.... don't you just love it. i have many things from bali too because my brother imports stuff from there sometimes. these items are gorgeous,i am always in love with this kind of thing. over and over....

  2. loved this story, and thank you for sharing these beautiful textiles

  3. I'm drooling over the colours and textures of that cloth and it makes it so much more special with the story attached. Do you display it or store it - I wouldn't be able to resist stroking it now and again.

  4. Great stuff............I am a handicraft manufacturer supplier and looking for partners globally. If any one interest please contact me through this website.


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