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In this month's newsletter Jean follows up on her promise of last month to give us two more articles on her recent Timor field trip. These describe the search for the community of origin for a mystery textile shown to us by a friend here in Bali, and Jean's reflections on the potential for a generation of young weavers to continue the tradition after the current master weavers are too old. 


As the Textile of the Month, we feature a piece from the Meo warrior costume mentioned tantalisingly at the end of Jean's first Timor article in the last newsletter. 


We also have news of what is new at the gallery and what is happening at the Bebali Foundation natural dye studio and garden. 

A Mysterious Textile
Twelve Years in Timor, Part 2

The Mysterious Textile
The mysterious textile that opened more doors than expected

In the second of Jean's Timor articles, she recounts the red herrings, interesting dead ends, and eventual resolution of a question set her by a friend here in Ubud, who brought her an old Timorese cloth and asked her where it was from. "Though I didn't know exactly where it was from," she says, "I had a sense I knew: handspun with a bold black centerfield and indigo blue motifs on the side panels made me think immediately of the island of West Timor. We asked if we could keep the textile and bring it with us when we next went to the island."

Is there another Generation of Weavers?
Twelve Years in Timor, Part 3

An aunt teaching her niece to weave
An aunt teaching her niece to weave

In her third recent article about Timor, Jean explores how the art is being transmitted between generations. Part of the mission statement for Threads of Life has been to improve the livelihood of women, and this has been accomplished beyond our expectations. But the financial success of the weavers has decreased the weaving pool. Where many weavers have paid for their daughters to go high school and even University, the likelihood that such a well-educated young woman will come back to her village and weave decreases. On her recent trip to Timor, Jean decided she would photograph households where multiple generations are maintaining a textile tradition, both to show that the traditions are still being passed on and to give the images back to the weavers. As Jean writes, "It would reflect my appreciation of their shared commitment and in some small way make the weavers more aware of how proud they can be of this commitment."

Textile of the Month
Pilu Saluk man's headdress
Pilu Saluk man's headdress, 2014

Pilu Saluk man's headdress, 2014
Mollo Utara, Timor Tengah Selatan, Timor
Commercial cotton, natural dyes, slit tapestry
18 x 232 cm
Dyed by Bebali Foundation
Woven by Yuliana Takesan 


We have been working for several years to encourage the revival of the traditional costume once worn by meo warriors in the area of Mollo. It consists of nine pieces of intricately woven slit tapestry weave with separate parts tied around the head, waist, arms and legs. The long fringes covering the face were said to create a veil between the worlds as men went into battle knowing they were facing death. While the women are improving their weaving skills, the Bebali Foundation dye studio is supplying the natural dyed threads. In time, the dye skills will be re-taught to the weavers. 

Best wishes,

W illiam, Jean, Pung and everyone 
at Threads of Life and the Bebali Foundation
Join us online

In the Gallery

In the Gallery
A few years ago we realised we were missing two big opportunities by only buying from the senior master weavers in each community. We had set and maintained high quality control standards that had improved the work being produced, but there were weavers who were not quite making that standard, and these women were loosing out on the chance to sell and make income. 

The flaws were all minor; generally the textile is not straight enough to hang as an art piece. The two-fold opportunity was to buy these pieces at a slight discount to improve the weavers' incomes, and to make pillows from the parts of each textile that were still of the highest standard.  To honour the integrity of the cloth, we sized the pillows to the design of the cloth and had the pillows carefully finished with hidden zips. 

The results are among our best sellers: beautiful throw pillows that grace any living room or bedroom were they are placed. 
At the Studio

At the Studio
Those following us through our social media postings on Facebook and Instagram will have seen the recent emergence of arasi natural-dyed silk scarves as a product from the Bebali Foundation dye studio. Arasi is a pressure-resist technique based on traditional Japanese shibori processes that Frog, Sujata and the other staff at the foundation's dye studio have been exploring as a way to develop income to pay for their salaries. After years of dependence on grants and donations, the foundation staff are feeling great that they can use their skills and natural dye knowledge to make beautiful products that help them pay for their own way. 

The natural dye batik classes they offer are also drawing many people to the dye garden and studio. Where there are several choices of batik class in Ubud, this is the only one that features natural dyes. The half-day batik workshop features hands-on batik work on your own small textile, with a guided walk of the botanical dye plant garden, explanations of the archipelago's traditional dye processes, and an indigo demonstration on the results of your batik work. The class includes a 10-minute shuttle ride to and from Ubud, and there is an optional delicious Balinese packed lunch from the Umajati Retreat kitchen next door.
Umajati Retreat


"A sky filled with glittering stars and fireflies flying in the background, wow... that truly was a first for me!"

--Agnes, TripAdvisor, 2015

Winner of TripAdvisor's Certificate of Excellence 2015

Surrounded by tranquil rice fields, Umajati is a lush garden property hosting two elegantly converted 100-year-old Javanese teak wooden homes that provide 21st century living in 19th century houses. Umajati is just 10 minutes north of Ubud and offers daily, weekly or monthly rentals.

  • 1-bedroom house: 
    USD 190* p/night 
  • 2-bedroom house: 
    USD 245* p/night 

*10% discount for direct bookings: 

A daily dose of Threads of Life on Instagram


We share lots and lots of stories and images from our field work. Follow along, you can find us under  @threadsoflifebali.