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Sulawesi Silk Weaving

Vibrant colours, a soft texture and high levels of craftsmanship characterise one of the most well-known local crafts of Sulawesi, one of the four Greater Sunda Islands of Indonesia.

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Used in clothing, sarongs, shoes and accessories, silk weaving continues to thrive in Eastern and Southern Sulawesi, where the local craftsmen, typically the Buginese who often cross over from island to island trading silk and other goods, continue to practise traditional weaving techniques.

For the artisans of Sulawesi, silk weaving is a way of life, with many of the craftsmen even known to keep silkworms in their own homes. The process of weaving is labour-intensive – most craftsmen do not rely on any modern equipment and instead spin the silk yarn by hand. The subsequent practice of fastening and colouring of yarn can take as many as 100 days, after which the yarn is boiled to retain the absorbed colour. The final step is the weaving process, where artisans typically use a traditional wooden machine, or bola-bola, to weave the silk into many beautiful patterns and designs rooted in the long history and heritage of Sulawesi.