Indonesia *Tanah Air*

The Eastern Indonesia Fabric Center

See in greater detail the fabrics of
Roté Sabu Bélu Timor

All fabric images on the pages above less than 26K and in JPEG.

-- Feature Discussion: M&M and Pin talk about The Backstrap Loom --

This stop on the Web represents the work of several groups of weavers located in remote areas of the islands Timor, Flores, Roté (Roti), and Sabu (Savu). Although this site is not an electronic storefront, we nonetheless hope to stimulate interest in these weavings both as an art form and a commercial product.

Art and Tradition

An integral part of tradition, the fabrics, apart from functioning as people's day-to-day clothing, play important roles in courtship, marriage, death, and conciliatory rituals. Thus, most people weave to clothe their families and in order to prepare for occasions which require traditional exchanges of cloth.

Modern changes

On Sabu, at least one large cooperative has been formed to weave cloth commercially. The fabrics may be sold in lengths or incorporated into handbags and other accessories; in some cases large production runs may be arranged for use in fashion design.

In Java, where labor, materials, and distribution are cheap, virtual weaving "factories" crank out imitations of fabrics, mainly those of Sumba and Sabu. This allows for creation of a uniform, controlled product at a lower cost. Often traditional color schemes will be modified to suit the tastes of designers or foreign clients.

Some of the traditional hand-weavers here in the Eastern Isles do sell their fabrics at local markets to traders who bring them to the city, or even as far as boutiques in Java and Bali. But the buyers are few, and the market is quickly saturated.


On these pages you will find examples of major families of cloth designs, plus descriptions offering insight into their motifs. Interviews with weavers bring you face-to-face with the articles' creators. Although the specific works on display are NOT for sale, if you'd like to find out more about either the weavers or a particular style of weaving, or how you can help the cooperative develop, you may write me and I'll see if I can't put you in touch with some local friends.

- thumbnails -

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