THE BEAUTY OF IKAT

 

Indonesia’s wealth of heritage handicrafts is as diverse as its many cultures. Each month we explore the archipelago’s offerings through a different traditional craft.

The woven fabric of East Nusa Tenggara is said to be the best in Indonesia because of its rich motifs originating from various cultural groups.

The diversity of peoples in this southernmost Indonesian province has resulted in a wide variety of motifs; weaving is an art form that is passed down from generation to generation. Each cultural group has its own distinctive motifs showcasing legends, myths and native animals.

In East Nusa Tenggara, woven fabric is considered a high-value asset because its production is very difficult and time consuming. Fabrics are also distinguished according to the weaving process, namely ikat, buna and sotis. Ikat weaving is named after the formation process, which involves the binding of threads. Using a slightly different process from other areas where weaving is done on a loom using weft yarn, the weaving in East Nusa Tenggara uses warp thread. Weft yarn is inserted horizontally against warp threads that have been vertically woven.

The province’s woven fabrics are becoming well known in many parts of the world, second only to batik. Various promotional activities that include ikat weaving at local, national and even international exhibitions continue to be encouraged, especially since woven fabrics made with natural dyes are increasingly popular.