Threads of Life Logo
Indonesian Textile Arts   |   What We Do   |   Ubud Gallery   |   Online Store   |   Get Involved

Lots to browse through from this month's newsletter. Field Notes from Kalimantan, Timor and Sulawesi explore innovations we are making in the supply of natural dye materials, and the impacts of research into the textile and cultural arts traditions. 

The Textile of the Month and an article on indigo dye connect some of the dots, literally and figuratively, between research and application.
Field Notes

Field Notes

There are three new field notes this month.  In the first, Jean writes of the first time in seven years she has accompanied a field trip to Kalimantan . She writes of both her sadness at seeing how much the land has been deforested since her last visit, and her excitement at how Threads of Life's work with Dayak Desa weavers is gaining traction and producing beautiful results. 

In a new piece about Timor related to her most recent field work there, she again talks about the environment; here noting the impact of long dry seasons on textile production and innovations we are attempting in the supply of natural dyes to extend the work season and increase incomes. 

In a Field Note about West Sulawesi, our Timorese field staff, Yansen Tuan, talks about his impressions of the remote Toraja Karataun and Mamasa regions during a field trip with Made Pung.
Textile of the Month

Tannun Suppu ceremonial cloth, 2014
Tannun Suppu ceremonial cloth, 2014

Tannun Suppu ceremonial cloth, 2014
Kalumpang, Mamuju, Sulawesi
Handspun cotton, Natural dyes
88 x 288 cm
Ikat Tied by Mariati
Dyed and woven by Sosana

In the Field Note on West Sulawesi mentioned above, an exciting potential recovery of tradition concerns the Tali Tobatu textile. A Tali Tobatu is woven with slit tapestry weave in parts of the textile. These slits are close enough together that they can be bound in the same way that ikat threads of bound prior to dyeing. The dyed result looks like double ikat, but is subtly different and unusual. 

We have only seen examples of such work at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra and after years of searching for a weaver, Made Pung is excited that this textile might be made again in the community. The detail of the piece shown here is a regular warp ikat that was made to mimic the Tali Tobatu tie-dyed slit tapestry, which suggests that the original textile was so important that it would be worth reproducing in this form.
The New Blue

The Bebali Foundation dye team amongst the indigo in Java
The Bebali Foundation dye team amongst the indigo in Java

For the past two years Threads of Life has been working on an Australian government funded project to develop non-timber forest products in Indonesian Timor. After lots of research and community consultation, indigo (Indigofera tinctoria) has been identified as a plant species targeted for local production. Small-scale trials in Bali and research with large-scale producers in Java have guided our preparations for hectare-scale field tests in Timor. Partnering with the regency forestry department in Soe, plots will be cultivated in three villages and the forestry department's own gardens. While there is ready demand among Timor's weavers (see the Field Notes article above), Threads of Life also identifies potential demand in Bali's niche garment industry. 

We are frequently contacted by designers and producers wanting natural dyes, but who are not willing to develop production systems when there is no ready supply. Conversely, the farmers are not willing to plant when there is no explicit demand. Someone has to blink first, and with the current funding for Threads of Life and ongoing support for the Bebali Foundation from the Ford Foundation, we are moving to address these challenges and opportunities.
Best wishes,

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

Coming up: Threads of Life at Ubud Writers & Readers Festival

UWRF Arts Program | Stories in Cloth: How Indonesia's Textile Traditions Convey Meaning

Held annually in Ubud, the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival has become Southeast Asia's largest and most renowned cultural and literary event.

The next Festival will be held 
October 28 - November 1, 2015, and will celebrate the theme 17,000 Islands of Imagination.

Threads of Life is proud to be part of the festival in a dynamic presentation illustrated with contemporary indigenous textiles from around Indonesia, where William will examine the history and traditional uses of textiles in Indonesia. This talk spanning 4000 years of history and genealogy is a colourful exploration of the archipelago's woven symbology.

A daily dose of Threads of Life on Instagram

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.
Umajati Retreat

"Umajati is an experience we will cherish forever."
--TripAdvisor, 2015
S urrounded by tranquil rice fie lds,  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: