Endek Fabrics of Bali
For a cultural immersion into the rich heritage of Bali, Balinese textiles are often the most telling of the island’s colourful and complex history.
Endek fabrics are among the most popular and intriguing textiles on the island, with the earliest known endek dating back to the late 19th century and tracing its origins to the North Balinese kingdom of Buleleng. While in the past, endek textiles were widely seen as courtly symbols, worn to identify a person’s high social status, they are now worn by the Balinese as part of a national costume, during religious rituals and special-occasion ceremonies, such as traditional wedding parties.
Endek-making is a labour of love and patience, with the weavers taking up to three months to produce, colour and weave the fabric’s threads. Preparing the endek pattern also takes time – the workers string the weft threads on a frame, tape them off in bunches and soak them in dyes, weaving the dyed threads into a loom to create the final design.
Though endek fabric remains in high demand by locals and tourists alike, the struggle to preserve the hand-based craft continues, as the mass-produced, printed endek takes precedence due to its ease and speed of production. In an effort to protect the endangered craft, Denpasar declared endek the city’s official fabric, putting in place efforts to provide training and assistance to the city’s weavers and making endek shirts mandatory for the city’s officials on official occasions.