The magical textiles of Bali, support Bali to continue its textile production in Bali traditionally

The magical textiles of Bali, support Bali to continue its textile production in Bali traditionally

Bali, one of the small islands dotted along the Indonesian archipelago, small it may be, but Bali has a long history, possibly the greatest part of the Indonesian archipelago which is concealed in the mists of time.  Over the years, numerous historians, archaeologist, writers, anthropologists have been revealing these amazing and valuable information about Bali providing us with rich cultural stories from this paradise island.

These photos were donated to us by Dr Gede Maha Putra, an Oxford University researcher, who lived in the UK during his doctorate research, and has now return to Bali. Thank yo Blih for these amazing photos.

Bali produced many different types of  beautiful handmade traditional textiles, and their Geringsing cloth is probably one of the most well-known traditional textiles of Indonesia. The amazing patterns of Cepuk songket, the beautiful ikat Endek, the Bali songket which originally produced for royal families of Bali in the past, the Perada (the gilded Bali cloth), the Poleng (the dualism of black and white Bali cloth) and the Bebali woven textile which looks very similar to the Lurik woven cloth of Java. Bali textiles, like most hand-woven textiles from many other regions of Indonesia, have valuable cultural significance, tying the past and the future, and must be preserved for future generations to embrace, enjoy and be part of.

It is extremely worrying, that Bali today, particularly trading centres visited by many tourists are actually openly selling copies of fake Bali textiles and textiles of other regions of Indonesia and claimed these textiles as real hand-woven textiles using back-strap loom and sold these textiles to visiting tourists. These dishonest trading behaviour, have slowly killed the traditional weaving industries in many regions of Bali and Indonesia in general, as most of these textiles were produced by ATBM (Shaft loom) mass produced in Troso, Central Java. Visitors to Bali and any other regions where they could purchase these fake traditional textiles everywhere and very cheaply compared to the traditionally produced back-strap loom textiles, then later re-selling these textiles globally, where they are usually advertised and claimed as genuine Indonesian traditional textiles made using back-strap looms. The fakes textiles are often copied so perfectly in appearance, only real experienced traditional textile collectors/lovers could spot the true difference.

A few years ago, we were introduced to a young Balinese lady who were working very hard (probably still is), to revive the “almost lost (extinct)” real woven traditional textiles of Endek. Her fight to bring these textiles back to the world is really against Bali fakery culture.  We were told that Bali businesses not interested in buying any textiles from the back-strap loom weavers in Endek, as they could purchase fake/copied textiles just 1/10th x the Endek weavers’ price from textile makers in Troso in Central Java.  This type of dilemma is faced by weavers in most regions of Indonesia, fighting the war of copy-cats of their own nation. This issue will continue to wreck the traditional weaving industries as Indonesia is embracing more on the economic development alone, putting aside the traditional and cultural value of our textiles.

To be honest, we don’t have any issue against the development of textiles in TROSO, central Java, DON’T GET US WRONG, but we feel that a little respect should be given to regional textiles producers of Indonesia (the real back-strap loom weavers). Shaft Loom (ATBM) textiles from Java should be labeled correctly and should ideally not to mess-up with patterns of our textiles from regions of the country. There are numerous times we could see patterns of Toraja’s textiles mixed with patterns from Sumba textiles, and the Batak Ulos textiles, all jumbled-up in one sheet of textiles and call it “Genuine hand-woven Sumba ikat”. This is what we feel very sad about and a true insult to our traditional regional weavers.

Troso of Central Java, has a big part in developing the local economy, that we cannot deny, and we are very proud of, but we hope there will be a balance between fast/mass production and economic development of one region of Java and the preservation textile culture of Indonesia and the economic development of other regions of Indonesia.

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