The Proud Prada: Traditional Fabric of Bali
Named after a technique of decorating cloth with gold leaf or gold dust, the prada fabric’s origins stem from the aristocratic circles of Majapahit, an East Javanese kingdom.
With associations to traditional festivals and religious ceremonies, prada fabric is a royal textile that decorates ceremonial flags and umbrellas for processions, and wraps temples, emphasising the distinction and importance of the ritual being performed.
Using gold dust, or gold paint, to decorate the cloth and applying it to the fabric with a handmade glue mixture of linseed oil and earth, egg white or fish glue, the laborious process behind creating the exquisite fabric showcases the high skill level of the Balinese craftsmen. Although the real gold prada is almost never seen today, the fabric remains a popular ceremonial staple with real gold having been replaced by gold paint or plastic foil. With complex motifs of birds, butterflies or flowers, the vibrant fabric continues to be the standard of exclusivity and distinction for special occasions in Bali and Indonesia.