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Tapis Weaving in Lampung

Tapis is an expression of the rich local history and beliefs of the people of Lampung through ornamental and floral motifs.

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Referring to both the traditional weaving style prevalent in the southern Sumatran province of Lampung, and to the resulting cloth, tapis is an expression of the rich local history and beliefs of the people of Lampung through ornamental and floral motifs that often incorporate beads, coins or mica chips and communicate social station and ceremonial and religious significance.

The centuries-old craft of tapis weaving remains largely unchanged to this day, with the exception of cotton as a substitute for the traditionally used pineapple leaves as the cloth-making material. A process typically done by the Lampungese women, tapis embroidering is an acquired skill, done manually with the cloth stretched on a rectangular board and cotton and gold threads used to embellish the cloth with decorative motifs. The process requires patience and determination from its maker, with some of the more elaborate motifs taking up to two months to complete.

While the process of tapis making and the cloth are becoming more secularised, there are still mythical connotations attributed to the process of weaving and embroidering. Different motifs carry different meanings: a motif of a bird signifies a high social status, and a motif of a water buffalo symbolises prosperity. Throughout the weaving process, it is also not uncommon for the tapis maker to recite mantras to ensure that the tapis cloth does not bring harm to anyone wearing it later.