Women throughout East Nusa Tenggara still hand-weaver their textiles using natural dyes and hand-spun cotton known as ikat weaving. Ikat means to knot or bind. Pattern desired is bound onto the thread and dyed before weaving. In Flores the textiles is normally sewn together to form a tube known as a sarong that serve many practical purposes.
Every districts in East Nusa Tenggara has its own patterns and designs. Special motifs will be created or the ceremonies such as grand weddings and funerals.
Flores textiles are rustic in color. with abstract motifs of chickens, mountains, and traditional houses. Some weaving areas are Pagal, around Ruteng; Wolotopo and Nggela in Ende region, and.. Sikka in Maumere region.
Ikat textiles in Sumba are worked and exchange at important ceremonies to show one's social status. At the funerals, the most exquisite textiles would be placed in the grave for use in the affer world.
The west and east regions in Sumba differ in design and color. Bold, bright designee showing battles, livestocks or people are found in the east. Textiles in the west tend to be more dense, abstract patterns, triangles, for buffalo eyes and rectangle for horses tail.

Despite the great complexity in the techniques used to produce it the textiles, specially the highest quality ones, always play important roles in every rites of Sumba such as Pasola.
Taking up two years to complete, the production of a full-sized Sumba cloth, is the preserve of the female members of the different clan groups scattered throughout the island. Throughout the production of textiles, women maintain a tangible link with the mythology of the belief system (Marapu) while achieving a high degree of economic autonomy within what is essentially a patriarchal social order.
The process is carried out by the most experienced members of clan. The motifs are tied from memory with clan women specializing in particular design.
Rote, Savu, and Insana (Timor) are also wellknown in the ikat textiles for their motifs. On the islands of East Nusa Tenggara, such ikat textiles are an inseparable part of people's culture and traditions. The shawl on Sumba is called hinggi, and the sarong is called /au Pahudu Kiku, with the motifs of horses and human beings.
The horse represents the Sandal Horses, and the human figure is a symbol of the worship of the ancestral spirits.
In Timor, such shawl are called tais. In Ngada they are called hoba, on Rote dula buna, and on Sabu, they are called sigi wuri woteu kekama haba. All these illustrates the diversity in beliefs and in the ways of symbols, like of the people. Figures may become symbols, and symbols become the names of island.
In designing or drawing motifs, the creator must never appear in personification, as that would be sacrilege. Therefore, he is symbolized in familiar shapes, such as stars, serpents, lizards, et cetera.
Many mysteries of life are captured in such cloths. which until this day remain cherished.
The golden tree represents the descent of Ana wula leja, the Son of Heavens who gives life to plants and vegetables.
The iguana represents faithfulness to the ancestral traditions. By the way, the dress and motifs which they wear, the educated observer can distinguish wheather the we are belongs to the upper classes of the society or the class to the commoners.
It is not known when the arts of ikat weaving was introduced to these islands or by whom. The art is known even in the Tanimbar Islands of Maluku. It may be that it was from there that the arts crossed into Timor and the surrounding islands. Today, however, East Nusa Tenggara is the undisputed center of the arts of ikat weaving in Indonesia.
The process of spinning the yarn and weaving are basically the same as that followed elsewhere. So, is that of applying the dyes. In the old days, before yarn were on sale in the markets, people owned cotton fields. Today they still plants cotton that require thick yarns, which are not sold in shops.
Spinning wheels and looms are in general the same throughout in this area. Before it is woven, the yarn is colored with dye, prepared from mengkudu, tarum, lobe, (kinds of plants) to produce respective color as red, dark, and yellow.
To strengthen the yarn, it is boiled in water mixed with black sorghum seeds, burned coconut sheathes, and Kemiri- candle nuts.
The yarn then in dipped in water then squeezed dry several times, until the color is dark enough. Today some use chemical dyes.
Weaving is as follows: the yarn are tightened in bundles with young smoked coconut leaves. Then they are dipped into the dye. If certain parts need extra color, the bundles are untied. The parts to be left uncolored are tied-up again. So, it continues until the colors are perfect.
Weaving of textiles is a social afair and several women in East Nusa Tenggara, especially those living in villages, can still be found weaving on the back verandah of their houses.
Weaving can be seen or purchased from these villages too.


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