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We are excited about offering a series of residential workshops over the remainder of this year utilizing the beautiful traditional houses of the Umajati Retreat and the Threads of Life Dye Studio located on the same property. Take a look at our links for these workshops and join us - and tell your friends. We can only take a limited number of people for each which means you will have very focused attention and hands-on experience.

Also included here are two short articles reflecting on this month's fieldwork in Sumba. The first looks at progress being made in one community after five years of relationship building. The second looks at the politics of traditional religions in eastern Indonesia.

2017 Workshops

July 09-15: Nature's Colour Workshop
This workshop explores the making, meaning and application of Indonesia's traditional natural dyes through the practices of batik, yarn and swatch dyeing, and pressure-resist patterning.
For more information:

September 03-10: Creative Cultures Workshop
Over eight days you will explore the roots of Balinese culture through hands-on workshops that delve into the resilience of Bali's unique arts, crafts and ritual practices, including textiles and dyeing, basketry, offering making, and cooking.
For more information:

September 17-23: Tribawana: The Inner Journey and Outer Practice of Batik
Nia Fliam and Agus Ismoyo will be back with us again from their home in Jogjakarta to teach natural dye batik and Java's traditional creative processes
For more information:

October 21-25: Original Colours Workshop
Leading up to the Ubud Readers and Writers Festival, we will have a 3-day workshop in natural dyeing working with Indigo and batik.
For more information, please contact

Growing Impact in East Sumba

The Threads of Life team just returned from a week in East Sumba where they had a terrific response from a group of Kenatang weavers we have been cultivating relationships with for five years. It takes a long time to build relationships of trust with groups of weavers so that they see we are making a long-term commitment to support high quality traditional textiles skills rather than just being one-time buyers. Where previous visits resulted in us buying a dozen textiles, on this visit we bought over forty pieces.

By learning more deeply about their community's culture there has been a deeper level of response. The weavers can see that we want to support more than the economics of the village and are genuinely interested in how they are continuing their traditions. Many of the communities of East Sumba still practice their traditional religion called "Marapu" which is the "way of the ancestors". We look forward to continuing to learn from these communities and buying textiles from them!

Rights and Traditional Beliefs in Indonesia

Within recent years, traditional belief systems throughout this diverse archipelago are beginning to get support from the Indonesian government. In the past, parents of children who wanted to go to a government school had to present an identity card that indicated their religion. In 1945 the new Indonesian republic recognized only five religions - Islam, Hinduism, Catholicism, Protestantism, and Buddhism - with Confucianism added more recently.

Each of the five hundred ethnic groups across the archipelago would have had a traditional spiritual way of life that was called by a name. But if children within one of these belief systems, wanted to enter school they would have to prove that they were following one of the accepted organized religions. Such discrimination leads to the inevitable loss of languages and cultural practices as well as creating divisions within family structures. Children come to see their elders as backwards and lack the respect and interest to learn more about their own traditions.

However, within the last year the Indonesian government has embarked upon a tacit approval of traditional religious practices. In some areas where we are working, people who have the ability to apply for an identity card online have been able to leave their religion as a blank in the application form. While it is unclear whether this is strictly legal, the lack of opportunity to choose outside the six recognized religions is currently being challenged as discriminatory in the Constitutional Court. That this issue has progressed this far is a sign of change for the good.

Best wishes,

W illiam, Jean and everyone 
at Threads of Life and the Bebali Foundation
From our social feeds to yours:

Threads of Life on Instagram

"Got the blues in paradise.  Over on the blog, a beautiful day with @threadsoflifebali learning all about to traditional art of indigo dyeing. Was such a lovely way to learn more about the culture and traditions of Bali."

Seven days of exploring natural dye traditions of Indonesia at @umajati with our incredible #threadsoflife team.

Traditional textiles (bidang) wrap the harvest baskets (cupai) from the head of each family group and offerings are made to the rice spirit during a Dayak Desa harvest ceremony.

"Indigo is among the oldest dyes to be used for textile dyeing and printing. Many Asian countries, such as India, Japan, and Southeast Asian nations have used indigo as a dye (particularly silk dye) for centuries. The dye was also known to ancient civilizations in Mesopotamia, Egypt, Britain, Mesoamerica, Peru, Iran, and Africa. The oldest known fabric dyed indigo dating to 6,000 years ago was discovered in 2009 at Huaca Prieta, Peru." -Wikipedia
Umajati Retreat
"It's absolutely perfect! Words can't do justice to this place!"
--TripAdvisor, 2017

Winner of TripAdvisor's Certificate of Excellence 2016

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: visit