Add us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Pinterest Instagram
  • Oct 28th, 2011

Threads Of Life

Jalan Kajeng Ubud

Whilst in Bali in the Summer we were intrigued by a sign at the end of one of the streets, which promised the most beautiful rice field walk in Ubud. Hoping to photograph some dramatic terraced paddy fields we followed the sign and found ourselves in a charming little side street called Jalan Kajeng, which is home to many guesthouses, restaurants and shops. We made our way slowly down the narrow lane stopping to read the inscriptions on the paving squares (you can buy a square and a local artist will decorate it with your own design or message). We carefully avoided the offerings of flowers, incense and rice on little palm leaf plates which are left daily outside temples, homes and shops. Heavily laden motorbikes were zipping up and down weaving in and out of dogs and pedestrians.

At the far end of the street we came across an amazing textile gallery Threads of Life which showcases Indonesian textiles. But as I was to discover it is so much more than a gallery, it is a fairtrade organisation which sponsors the production of naturally dyed, handmade ritual textiles from over 40 co-operatives on 11 Indonesian Islands.

As most of the weavers are in remote regions and don’t have access to modern communications, field visits are made during the dry season (April – October). During these visits research is carried out into the meaning and the use of these textiles and by supporting the continuation of these traditions they ensure that the skills are passed to future generations. Pieces are purchased and commissioned for sale in the gallery. The proceeds are used to help weavers form independent co-operatives and manage their resources sustainably.

Many Indonesian textiles are produced using the ikat process. Ikat is a Malay word which literally means to tie or bind. The technique involves dyeing the motifs onto the threads before they are woven. By binding groups of threads with palm leaf fibre they resist the subsequent dyeing, while unbound areas take up the dye. It is effectively a tie and dye technique.

The colouring of most traditional Indonesian ikat fabrics are dictated by the dyestuffs available in the forest. I love the beautiful shades which can be derived from vegetable dyes, vivid reds and blues, blacks, purples and rich browns. Using only indigo blue and morinda red a wide range of bright and muted shades can be achieved. By repeated dyeing and the manipulation of the mordant recipes (substance for fixing the dye) a vast array of shades can be developed. Colourfast greens and yellows are difficult to produce and are therefore less common.

We never did get to do the rice field walk in Ubud. Maybe another time! But here are a few shots of the terraced rice fields in Batuan and near Tirta Gangga in Eastern Bali.

Blog Archive Tweets Mollie's Tweets
We are CODA