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Weaving Process & Techniques in Atambua by Siombo (2019): An Overview

Summarized and edited by Natasha Rebecca

The process of weaving begins in the preparation of the threads that are going to be used. To do so, weavers spin cotton using a traditional tool because they do not use conventional threads from the market. This time-consuming process can even take up to a couple of months. Cotton is taken directly from its source, the tree. The results from the spinning are usually irregular in shape and aren’t smooth, creating the asymmetrical pattern on the tenun. This imperfection is what makes each tenun unique, separating it from factory-produced products.
According to Siombo, after the spinning process, next comes the coloring process. The observation she did in Atambua, NTT showed that coloring doesn’t always happen when the material is still in its thread form, however, it is mostly done before the actual weaving process. Natural materials are used as sources of dye. For instance, “Ru Dao” leaves are for indigo, “Ka’bo” tree roots for red, turmeric, or “Menkude / Mengkudu” leaves or turmeric for yellow. Due to different types of geographical areas in East Nusa Tenggara, the type of plants available varies. An example of this are the teak leaves (Figure 1) used to make red dye in Rote-Ndao while in Belu, the root of the “Noni” tree is used. This is another time-consuming process that could take weeks because the process of coloring often needs repetition in order to create the colors desired (Figure 2).

Figure 1: Red dye made by teak leaves from Rote-Ndao .

Figure 1: Rote-Ndao artisans creating dyes with leaves.

Next, weavers of Atambua need to create patterns using their imagination by tying the threads. This is of course not always the case as other artisans will follow what they have been taught, their inherent motifs and patterns. For some, they used their imagination if they want to create a new motif. Once the dyes are fully absorbed and dried, the threads then are put on the traditional weaving tool that is called “Lana Her’u” by the locals of NTT. What is unique about NTT’s weaving compared to weaving from other parts of Indonesia is, instead of tying weft threads onto the machine, they tie warp threads instead. Hence, the weft thread is inserted horizontally into the warp thread that is already tied onto the machine vertically. This is a tiring process because of the traditional methodology, and all of this combined is what makes Tenun Ikat NTT unique, exquisite, and expensive.

Simbio conducted an ethnography to learn about the ways of weaving in NTT, aiming to learn how they practice it sustainably, and how to keep it that way in the future. As reported by Simobo, generally within NTT, weaving ikat is mainly separated into two types: Flores and Timor. Within Flores, there are differences amongst ikat Sumba and ikat Maumere. While for Timor, there is ikat Atambua in the Belu Regency. Other notable distinctions CCD-NL would like to mention are Ikat from Rote-Ndao, Alor, and Sawu.The weavers’ communities in NTT are tight-knit, usually grouped with their own clan or neighborhood. Weavers are mostly made up of housewives who gather and weave together after they finish their housework for the day, such as cleaning, cooking, and dropping off the children to school. This weaving culture is an extension of the bigger tradition and culture within NTT citizens on how to live as a community. Anthropologist Koentjaraningrat once stated the four characteristics of a community:

1. There are interactions between families
2. There is a tradition, norms, and rules that govern people’s behavior
3. There is a continuity in time
4. There is a strong feeling of identification that unites the members.


Furthermore, these four characteristics are also believed to serve as protection from disasters both physically and spiritually. Hence, this belief also reflects the close connection that the people of NTT have with nature and their surroundings, and are shown through weaving as well.


This author concluded in their research that in order to maintain the sustainability of the culture, the practice, and nature, the law must come into play. As industrialization, urbanization, and modernization will influence tradition and culture, it is crucial for local knowledge and culture to not be lost. Law could be one of the most effective tools in ensuring that the culture will be preserved, as the law could give order and enforce certain behaviors on the people so that the environment and its resources would be sustainable.

Materials and Tools

Before the dyeing process, the threads that will be used in a single piece of tenun fabric will be tied (ikat) according to the desired pattern, hence, the name ikat weaving. The patterns themselves and how they come to all depend on the individual weavers, there are no pre-designed patterns or sketches, part of their process is to create whatever they picture in their heads at that moment. This would be the first tenun step.


Dye

Fabrics from weaving Ikat from Flores and Timor are known for their earthy, darker colors such as black, brown, maroon, and dark blue, without very many variations. This is a result of dyes originating from vegetations, like noni and turmeric that are used to color the fabric. Furthermore, this natural process is also environmentally friendly, especially since they use just enough materials from natural resources, without taking more than what is needed. Therefore, Ikat fabrics originally are naturally dyed.

For the dyeing process itself, threads that are going to be used will be tied so that areas in which the threads are tied will not be dyed as well (remain their original color). Here is another example of why tenun ikat is very unique in which the weaver’s imagination begins the moment they start tying the threads to shape the pattern according to the colors as well. Generally, weavers would dye along the riverside. Again, due to the natural dye, it is not damaging for them to wash their waste in the river and natural dyes are also less likely to wear off.
After the dyeing process, the threads will then be arranged in the weaving tool. This arranging process is important to create a pattern that was determined in the prior process. Once arranged, the weaver would sit down with feet on the pedal, and slowly pull (using their legs) the threads to form the final fabric (Figure 3). In order to flatten the threads, they also use a plank or piece of wood to tighten the threads together, holding them in place better. The wood must be slippery with wax material taken from a type of tree used to make candles.

Figure 3. Selviana Boi Dao, an artisan from Belu Regency

To summarize, the step by step process:


1. Prepare the ingredients according to whichever color is desired. To attain yellow, use turmeric, candlenut, and oranges; for brown, use noni; for black, use repeatedly cooked forest nuts, or taum leaves.
2. To create the black dye, the ingredients are then put into boiling water. Once the color of the water turns into the desired color, the threads will be put inside as well.
3. Repeatedly dip the threads in wet soil.
4. Wash the thread. Steps 2 and 3 should be repeated depending on how thick/ dark you want the color to be. This process must also be done repeatedly to ensure that the desired color is attained.
5. The colored threads will then be dried in the sun.
6. The ready-to-use threads will then be rolled around a piece of wood which will then be put into the weaving equipment / tool.

The CCD-NL Ikat Platform: Uniting and Empowering Ikat artisans

By Marija Nikolić

The Center for Culture and Development The Netherlands was founded in 2017 with the specific aim of preserving cultural heritage for sustainable development. The pilot project of the organization is focused on preserving the weaving tradition of Ikat and helping the artisans who are keeping it alive. In fact, from the very beginning of CCD-NL, one of the main goals was to empower artisans by giving them a legal and economic platform which they can benefit from. In order to accomplish this goal, CCD-NL worked directly with artisans in the Netherlands and Indonesia through the Binding with Ikat project. The first phase of the project was successful, but unfortunately, phase two was postponed due to the onset of the pandemic. Indeed, the COVID-19 crisis drastically changed the circumstances for many artisans and their entire communities, as Ikat artisans were struggling to make a living from their craft more than ever before.


It therefore became clear that there was a need for an online platform to unite artisans from different backgrounds and geographical locations. Because of this, CCD-NL launched the Binding with Ikat Platform (#ccdnlikatplatform). The aim of the platform was to allow artisans to share their knowledge and experience and thus empower each other. The platform offered the space for artisans to learn new techniques and develop their Ikat weaving practice, while also attracting buyers and donors who would financially support this practice. On 2 July 2020, the Binding for Ikat Platform was officially launched with the webinar entitled “Binding cultures in times of crisis”. The webinar featured artisans Kyozo Shimogawa and Selviana Boi Dao, who come from Japan and Indonesia respectively, as well as Dutch designer Nikkie Wester. This was the first step in the platform helping to forge connections between artisans from all over the world.


Alongside the Ikat Platform, CCD-NL also launched the European Solidarity Project in the summer of 2020. This project was aimed to be the cultural bridge between Europe and the East and it explored European funding policies for the culture and arts industry and connected European artists and cultural institutions. The project and the platform therefore shared the same goal of stimulating solidarity during the COVID-19 crisis and helping artisans connect to each other online. At the same time, the Kurume Kasuri Project was also launched. The goal of this project was to open up a market in the Netherlands for Japanese Kasuri weavings, which would financially benefit the Japanese artisans, while also inspirng interaction and collaboration with Dutch designers. This project is still ongoing, and this month CCD-NL will hold the third in a series of webinars about Japanese Kasuri.


In the past year, the Ikat Platform has grown and new projects have been launched to help it reach its goals. In total, the Ikat Platform now encompasses seven sub-projects. Apart from the Japanese Kasuri project, the platform also includes Lab for Ikat, Training for Trainers, the Pan-European Project, the Online Archiving and Museum Project, Indian Ikat, and Crisis and Recovery Management. More information about all of these projects can be found on the CCD-NL website and social media, including links to how you can donate to support each of the different projects.


Some of these projects are still in their early stages, while others have already achieved significant results. For instance, the Training for Trainers project has been a great success, as it resulted in Ikat artisans from different backgrounds gathering in an online space and sharing their knowledge about using sustainable natural dyes. The Kasuri Project has also been incredibly successful, as the webinars have drawn in a diverse group of speakers from all over the world, who have shared their knowledge and insights about Japanese Kasuri. The final webinar in the series is expected to draw in the largest audience thus far, and will hopefully result in more people becoming inspired by the Kasuri weaving tradition.


Admittedly, there are still improvements to be made which could help the Ikat Platform and its sub-projects reach their shared goal of uniting and supporting artisans. Namely, funding is still needed for almost all of the projects. One of the next goals of CCD-NL is to find new ways of getting funding and attracting donors. Moreover, communication between the leaders of the different projects ought to be streamlined in order to help create a better environment for sharing ideas. However, the Ikat Platform is doing good work overall to empower artisans and connect them to each other. With the help of new donors, it will hopefully be able to improve even more in the future.

Indonesian Ikat's Ancient History

By Natasha Rebecca

Ikat weaving is an ancient technique which involves the preparation of threads through a process of tying, binding, and dyeing. This traditional textile can be found in Sumatra, East Java, Sulawesi, Bali, West and East of Nusa Tenggara, and Maluku. NTT Ikat is very rich in techniques, motifs, patterns, styles, and dyes. There has been much debate about the origin of the designs that characterize the textiles; it is generally recognized that some of the designs and motifs occurring in these textiles have diffused from other parts of the world, such as Vietnam, China, and India. Yet, there is no doubt that many of the features found in these fabrics are indigenous. Ikat fabric is different from other forms of fabric because of the main technique for its production. The word “Ikat” itself means ‘to tie’ (a knot) in the Indonesian language. Hence, the Ikat method is weaving through tying knots from the threads, dyed beforehand using natural dye.

Figure 1. Locations of tenun Ikat tradition in  Indonesia. 

NTT Ikat is extremely diverse in terms of  motifs and designs. This diversity has  contributed to the various functions and  meanings of Ikat in the community. Not only does it represent a cultural identity in  NTT, but it is also used for daily, traditional, and economic purposes. The daily use of woven fabrics has evolved over time. In the past, woven Ikat was more  exclusive and only used for special events or by royalty, reflecting social status. In the present, it is used more universally and is less exclusive. Furthermore, each region in Indonesia which is known for its woven Ikat has unique uses and significance for the fabric. Particularly in NTT,  Ikat can be used for traditional ceremonies, as a dowry, or as a repayment  when one violates a tradition. 

Figure 2. Ikat weavers in Belu, NTT.

Throughout the islands in the province, including Rote, Sawu, and Sumba, NTT Ikat represents peoples’ aesthetics, expressions, spirit, social order, pride, and dignity. These all play an important role in the socio-economic development of NTT. Tenun’s (weaving’s) economic purpose was initially as a good to be bartered within a barter economy. However, due to the intricacy of its art, nowadays it can function as a source of income for those who create it. The product itself has been one of Indonesia’s main exports, specifically in the fashion sector. This can be seen in the fact that woven products contributed 61.13% towards Indonesia’s export of fashion products in 2010, right after the financial crisis. The destination of half of the woven products is in 5 countries: Turkey, UAE, Japan, Saudi Arabia, and Malaysia.

Nevertheless, the role of Ikat weaving in contributing to the sustainable livelihoods in rural areas in NTT remains almost unexplored. There is no recognition given to the significance of Ikat weaving as a cultural asset through tourism, which, if utilized in this way, could contribute significantly to the development of the region. A few studies have been conducted about the empowerment of local rural communities through Ikat, but there are fewer studies about the potential contribution of local Ikat knowledge to socio-economic development in NTT and Indonesia at large.

The Origin of Ikat: BCE (Pre-Colonial times)

Chinese and Vietnamese influence


The largest outside influence on Nusa Tenggara Timur’s Ikat has been from China and Vietnam. Between 8 BCE and 2 BCE, there was considerable migration to Indonesia from the Annam region of Vietnam due to Chinese military pressure. The Vietnamese immigrants brought with them the Dong Son culture, which is believed to be the origin of backstrap loom weaving as well as Warp Ikat. Warp Ikat is one of the earliest pattern techniques in Indonesian sacred cloth and consists of “tying the warp yarns according to a specific pattern and dyeing them in a certain color before weaving”. The Dong Son culture existed in the Late Bronze Age in a coastal area of Vietnam between approximately 500 BC and 100 AC. The Dong Son people exported bronze drums to several areas across the now Indonesian archipelago, where on the drums, patterns can be found. Dong Son’s influence is prominent even in today’s warp-Ikat as seen from its design, depicting bronze work such as the soul ship, tree of life, and geometric patterns representing the details found in nature. As seen in Figures 3 and 4, similarities are present between the patterns found on Dong Son’s bronze drums and current Ikat from NTT. A similar occurrence can be identfied during the great migration from China in the 13th Century, which brought the culture of Late Chou to Indonesia. However, the Chinese influence is more apparent in fabric craftsmanship found in Kalimantan.

Figure 3. Dong Son’s motifs in bronze drums.

  Figure 4.Current motifs of NTT Ikat.

Despite the wide acceptance of the idea that Dong Son has been a major influence upon many Southeast Asian (SEA) crafts, there are several who oppose this theory. Buckley (2012) in particular, using the Bayesian and Neighbornet techniques to construct a phylogenetic tree and taxonomy for warp Ikat weaving in SEA, disproved the theory. The original premise is that the diverse Ikat motifs in Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, and other SEA countries have a common ancestor; the bronze-casting Dong Son culture. However, this is inconsistent with data comparing Ikat motifs. Some ancestral motifs identified in various SEA cultures were not present on the bronze drums, while conversely, some patterns on the bronze drums are absent in SEA Ikat. The motifs found on the bronze artifacts fall into 3 categories: realistic depictions of animals, stylized depictions of athromorphs, and geometric repetitive motifs. The first two categories are not present in most SEA Ikat. The premise also does not explain the presence of shared Ikat motifs in Sulawesi and The Philippines, where Dong Son artifacts were not found.

However, Buckley (2012) did not present an alternative theory explaining where Ikat motifs originated, merely suggesting that they may have existed long before the Dong Son culture. The paper suggested that researchers should keep an open mind towards possible new theories while appreciating the variety of textiles and their underlying unity. Ikat’s origin remains a mystery which remains indiscernible for now. Hope lies in future research, as new relics might be found to provide more clues and complete the missing theoretical puzzles.

While its origin remains a mystery, it is clear that Ikat patterns and techniques which hold symbolic meaning are passed down through generations by practical demonstrations and word-of-mouth. With time, modifications and improvements are made, while some older aspects may be forgotten and no longer used. This transmission primarily occurs between mother to daughter, and between other female relatives in the close tribes. Because traditional weaving motifs serve as important markers of familial or cultural affiliation, the knowledge and rights to weave them tend to be transmitted sparingly. Indonesian Ikat is a truly female craft; women must possess the skill of weaving in Rote Ndao, as it is used to measure the maturity of a Rote woman, as seen from her ability to create motifs, dye, and weave cloth. If the craft has been mastered, then the woman is considered suitable for marriage. In some villages, women should be able to weave their own wedding dress.

Indian influence

There has also been Indian influence through trade since the 16th century. While spices and sandalwood were exchanged, so were textiles which gave the islanders a creative input encouraging improvement of their own weaving skills. In particular, Gujarati and Cambay cloth were traded extensively. Yet, the textile with the most significant influence on the textiles of Sumba, Rote, and eastern Flores was the Gujarati patola. This influence, however, did not extend beyond the islands of Rote.

The Kingdom of Biboki in ancient NTT was studied to analyze the influence of the Indian patola upon NTT tenun Ikat. Biboki was a kingdom of West Timor which produced the Atoin meto textile, characterized by the use of a Warp Ikat weaving technique called “futus”. This technique involves weaving weft threads into Ikat warp threads to form a single-warp Ikat textile of the tabby weave. Traditionally, weavers were mostly aristocratic women as they were the only members of society with the time available to make such sophisticated and intricate textiles. It is assumed that this is where Ikat as a symbol of status began.

Patola, which originated from Gujarat in northwest India, came to Biboki as an exchange with white sandalwood. It has symmetrical, geometric, zoomorphic, and anthropomorphic designs. There is considerable visual evidence which shows how the patola motifs are incorporated in the Atoin meto motif. It is important to note that when designs from a foreign source are copied, weavers tend to re-interpret the motif in terms of their own basic shapes vocabulary rather than creating an exact copy. The use of the copied-patola motif was restricted by the Biboki king and his family to ensure that the motif remained an indicator of prestige. This exclusive use of the motif is similar to the use of family symbols of crests by noble families in ancient Britain. These prized clothes were stored inside ceremonial houses under strict security which enforced their sacred nature. Due to this control, Patola had a limited impact on local textile motifs, which may explain why the influence of Indian textiles in NTT remains limited to present-day Rote.

Figure 5. Indian patola found in Timor (top) compared to the copied patola by local NTT villagers (bottom).

According to available literature it is clear that the claim that only nobles were engaged in weaving might not be entirely true. Although it is possible that the trend of weaving diffused from the nobles to the common people, this does not explain the NTT tradition of girls weaving as symbolic of coming of age. Weaving is also a source of income for the common people. The lack of historical records detailing weaving by common people may simply be a result of research bias caused by a tendency to focus on elite groups such as royal families. Hence, most academic articles seem to begin from the more famous motifs, possibly to limit the scope, as researching the many peoples of multiple NTT islands would prove an almost insurmountable task.
Another historical link between the weaving traditions of India and Indonesia is present in eastern Flores, where floral patterns from the patola are found in textiles which appear as a symbol of noble status. Similarly, in Sumba, a network of rectangular forms called the patola ratu, which belonged to the highest class for generations, were present. As seen in Figure 6, the floral forms are also found in the design of men’s mantles in Sumba.

Figure 6. Men’s mantle from Sumba with a floral motif inspired by Gujarat patola.

The floral pattern, specifically called the eight-pointed flowers (called chhabadi bhat in India and jlamprang in Indonesia), is one of the most famous and widespread patterns. Its design was assimilated into local textiles, which became a prestige symbol for aristocratic families. Another patola pattern that was popular in Indonesia is a pattern depicting elephants.

Additional scientific proof of the influence of Indian culture upon Indonesia’s Ikat is the carbon-14 dating of various cotton cloths with patterns using block print and reserve dye processes produced in India which became heirlooms in Indonesia and present-day Timor-Leste. However, as the influence of Dong Son and Chinese techniques were mentioned before, it is unlikely that the Indonesian Ikat tradition derived solely from India. Instead, Livingston (1994) proposed that the Ikat tradition developed “simultaneously but separately” as it was not only developed in NTT, but also in other parts of Indonesia, such as Palembang and Bali.
Furthermore, an interesting difference between the Ikat weaving of India and Indonesia is that Indian weavers are mostly men, whereas in Indonesia this tradition is exclusively for women, with men only allowed to participate in dyeing certain colors of the yarn. In Indonesia, these roles are analogous to each gender’s limited yet important role in human conception, as “the spinning and dyeing of yarns and the weaving of them into pieces of cloth was traditionally regarded as symbolic of the process of creation, and of human birth”. This relates to how in Indonesia, skilled weavers are highly sought after as wives. It is of no doubt, however, that both Indonesian and Indian Ikat are integrated into the daily life of both cultures; symbolizing status, proclaiming beliefs, offering protection, and signifying historical context and traditions.

Cultural and Symbolic Meaning of Ikat

Before the creation of the Republic of Indonesia, local weavers in the old kingdoms of NTT devised ways to differentiate between their people. Differences in color, motif, and fringing mark the person wearing cloth as a resident of the different kingdoms (Amanuban, Amfoan, Amarasi, or other kingdoms), clans, and social statuses within the community. Within each group, different motifs and colors represented varying significance based on local legends or customary law. Although the old kingdoms have now disappeared, the meanings embedded in the motifs and colors of the textiles remain important in traditional ceremonies and rituals (adat).
Generally, the patterns of Indonesian sacred cloth fall into four main categories: geometric, human and animal, abstract, and natural objects. Geometric patterns emerged from the Dong Son culture and its ritual drums with geometric patterns. Its patterns, consisting of hooks, spirals, meanders, triangles and circles link with one another to create a form (for example human or animal patterns) with sacred cultural meaning. This relates to how the Warp Ikat technique, popular in NTT, is used mostly for mystic rituals related to animism. Animism is the belief that animal patterns are symbolic and mimic human traits of providing mystical powers. For example, reptiles are seen as symbols of the underworld and birds of the upper world.
Influenced by the Dong Son culture, Nusa Tenggara patterns are symbolic and narrative. This differs from festive and aristocratic Balinese patterns and more repetitive Javanese patterns, as the geometric patterns characteristic of NTT Ikat create human and animal forms which tell stories about folklore or local beliefs, including expressions of personal feelings. Ikat motifs are therefore representative of sacred concerns related to nature and spirit worship. A summary of NTT’s weaving patterns and its meaning can be seen in Figure 7.

Figure 7. Main patterns found in NTT textile.

In an interview with a weaver from Belu, it was explained that Ikat’s motifs have been present since ancient times. She gave an example using the motif, ujung tombak, explaining the story behind it: “a long time ago when our ancestors went to war and survived, there will be a victory party where the survivors must wear cloth with the ujung tombak motif.”Traditionally, on the Island of Flores, Ikat is used for daily cultural and religious Purposes, whilst in Rote, Ikat is mainly used for ceremonial purposes.
Livingston (1994) stated that Ikat textiles in the past were emblematic, as it helps to locate the textile’s owner within a social and cultural matrix. An excerpt regarding the ancient tradition of Ikat textile was taken from the writings of Philippe de Montebello:
“Ancient Indonesia was the hub of trading systems, and a pathway for religious and artistic influences, which conveyed exotic patterns and forms throughout Indonesia’s thousands of island populations, supplementing and modifying patterns already millenia old. Images deeply embedded in the ancient neolithic traditions of Indonesian peoples combined with designs acquired from other Asian civilisations to create a rich iconographic tradition which celebrated a cosmology founded on a pantheon of gods, a population of revered ancestors, and a universe teeming with supernatural presences. Textiles were central to the tasks of mediating between mankind and this often dangerous or terrifying universe, and of maintaining a balance that kept them in their due position.”

The potential for the fast fashion industry: Learning sustainable practices from Ikat

By Marija Nikolić

IMAGE: Selviana Boi Dao

The fashion industry has gone through significant changes over the last several decades. With the rise of social media, the trend cycle has become much faster than it used to be. Consumers now not only shop far more than before, but they also discard their clothing much more quickly, seeing it as much more disposable. This is both due to the low prices and quality, as well as because of the immense amount of new clothing at their disposal at all times.

Major fast fashion clothing brands such as H&M, Zara, or C&A offer many different clothing lines throughout the year, refreshing their stores on almost a weekly basis. But while trends come and go at such an alarmingly fast pace, the technology behind how clothes are produced has not innovated nearly as quickly. It remains a complex process with an enormous environmental impact. Namely, the process of making clothes creates significant water and chemical waste and produces an immense amount of greenhouse gasses. Indeed, according to new research, the fashion industry is responsible for 10% of all greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, because of the immense amount of chemicals, a lot of the clothes are also difficult or impossible to recycle, so the vast majority of clothing items end up in landfills. In fact, every year, an estimated 92 million tons of textile waste is created worldwide. In addition to this, workers employed in fast fashion factories are underpaid and exploited, while often also being exposed to extremely unsafe working conditions.

In recent years, there has been an increase in the discussion around fast fashion and its overwhelmingly negative impact on vulnerable communities and the environment. In many discussions of the issue, an emphasis has been placed on ethical and sustainable fashion. Consumers are now being urged to research the brands they support, or to choose to shop second-hand. On the other hand, companies are becoming more aware of the shifting public perception of fast fashion, and some are making steps towards creating more sustainable products. However, in order for there to be true change, our collective view of the fashion industry needs to change. Creating clothing sustainably requires more time and better quality materials. Additionally, clothing needs to be seen as valuable, something to be cared for and mended in case of tears, rather than something to be discarded after being worn a few times.

IMAGE: Ikat cloth by Marsa Fattu

Aside from second-hand shopping, another alternative to fast fashion can be found in traditional textiles, such as Ikat. This ancient weaving technique is practiced in many parts of the world, including Indonesia, Japan, India, and some parts of Europe. CCD-NL is currently focused on preserving this tradition and connecting Ikat weavers to designers in the Netherlands. Ikat weavings take a significant amount of time to create, and the end results are much higher in quality than fast fashion clothing. While not all Ikat is made completely sustainably, many artisan communities are actively working on learning more sustainable ways of creating their weavings. For example, weavers from Belu and Rote-Ndao, Indonesia have worked with CCD-NL through our ‘Training for Trainers’ project to learn how to create natural dyes instead of chemical ones. Moreover, purchasing traditional textiles such as Ikat directly helps vulnerable communities instead of exploiting and harming them.


However, it is unrealistic to expect consumers to completely give up fast fashion for ethical and sustainability reasons. For many, purchasing fast fashion remains the most convenient and affordable option, and this is unlikely to change in the coming years. It is therefore the fashion industry that needs drastic change. Namely, fashion companies could potentially implement some of the practices used in Ikat weaving in order to create more sustainable and enduring products. Firstly, they could implement the use of natural dyes on a larger scale, thus doing away with much of the negative environmental impact of chemical dyes. Secondly, they may attempt to use some of the same materials and weaving techniques to create sturdier textiles that would be less prone to damage and would thus last longer. Finally, it is integral that the companies that use the skilled labor of weavers and artisans create a safe environment for their workers and pay them fair wages, which would in turn help their entire communities.


Ikat weaving practices therefore represent the potential for what the fashion industry ought to strive for. This is why it is so important that Ikat artisans are supported in creating their weavings and learning new sustainable techniques. Supporting and empowering artisan communities is the goal of CCD-NL’s five-year pilot project. If you wish to learn more about this project or to donate, you can do so on our website ccd-nl.org.


https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/sustainability/our-insights/style-thats-sustainable-a-new-fast-fashion-formula
https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200710-why-clothes-are-so-hard-to-recycle

An introduction to TENUN Fashion Week

By Natasha Rebecca

*TRANSLASI INDONESIA TERSEDIA DI BAWAH* (*INDONESIAN TRANSLATION BELOW*)

Southeast Asia has a handwoven textiles heritage with a wide spectrum of images and displaying considerable technical prowess, ranging from fine fabrics produced for royal palaces to bright cloths woven by people in the farthest reaches of mountains and islands. TENUN, ASEAN’s first fashion week dedicated only to handweaves, reimagines their continuous significance by looking at how they are used in today’s fashion.

Southeast Asia’s weaving communities are at the center of this event, celebrating the way of life and livelihood of the people who manufacture the clothing using their handiwork. The fashion week contributes to the following United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by standing with these weaving communities, including those of rural women (SDGs):

TENUN also supports ASEAN’s Culture and Arts Strategic Plan 2016-2025 by encouraging intercultural contact and collaboration, instilling a sense of ownership for ASEAN’s cultural heritage, and harnessing culture for inclusive and sustainable development. Their work ethics are in line with the event’s vision, which states,

“As weaving sustains lives, weaving lives on.”

 

Launching on the 15–17 October 2021, TENUN will consist of digital fashion displays that will be aired online. The fashion week welcomes participants, weaving groups and any additional designers, from all ASEAN countries (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Philippines, Thailand, and Singapore). Fabrics woven by these weaving groups for use in the featured collections must be made on any sort of handloom configuration using traditional techniques. In the run-up to the event, weaver community biographies and behind-the-scenes footage of the collection’s production will be screened, with Jury and People’s Choice Awards to be presented to selected participants. The event will be open to the public for viewing.

Additionally, as a supplement to a projected international event in eco-fiber and textiles, TENUN will be accompanied by an online shop, which will be available on the event’s official website, and will conclude with a live fashion show (subject to acceptable COVID-19 standards) in Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia.

We will be appearing on DAY 3 on the 17th of October! Tune in at 7-9 PM Kuala Lumpur, Manila, and Denpasar time/6-8 PM Jakarta, Bangkok, Vientiane, Phnom Penh and Hanoi Time/ 1-3 PM Netherlands time. 

Tenun is free to view online via:

  1. Website: tenunfashionweek.com
  2. Youtube channel: ‘TENUN Fashion Week’
  3. Facebook page: ‘TENUN Fashion Week’

Sebuah Perkenalan Pekan Mode Tenun

Oleh Natasha Rebecca

Asia Tenggara memiliki warisan tekstil tenunan tangan dengan spektrum gambar yang luas dan menampilkan kecakapan teknis yang cukup besar, mulai dari kain halus yang diproduksi untuk istana kerajaan hingga kain cerah yang ditenun oleh orang-orang di pegunungan dan pulau terjauh. TENUN, pekan mode pertama ASEAN yang didedikasikan hanya untuk tenun tangan, membayangkan kembali signifikansi berkelanjutan mereka dengan melihat bagaimana mereka digunakan dalam mode saat ini.

Komunitas tenun Asia Tenggara menjadi pusat acara ini, merayakan cara hidup dan mata pencaharian orang-orang yang memproduksi pakaian ini dengan merasakan hasil karya mereka. Pekan mode berkontribusi pada Tujuan Pembangunan Berkelanjutan Perserikatan Bangsa-Bangsa berikut dengan berdiri bersama komunitas penenun ini, termasuk komunitas perempuan pedesaan (SDGs):

TENUN juga mendukung Rencana Strategis Kebudayaan dan Seni ASEAN 2016-2025 dengan mendorong kontak dan kolaborasi antarbudaya, menanamkan rasa memiliki terhadap warisan budaya ASEAN, dan memanfaatkan budaya untuk pembangunan yang inklusif dan berkelanjutan. Etika kerja mereka sejalan dengan visi acara, yang menyatakan,

 

“Saat menenun menopang kehidupan, menenun tetap hidup.”

 

Diadakan pada 15–17 Oktober 2021, TENUN akan terdiri dari peragaan busana digital yang akan ditayangkan secara online. Pekan mode ini menyambut peserta, kelompok tenun, dan desainer tambahan, dari seluruh negara ASEAN. Acara ini gratis dan terbuka untuk umum.

Kami akan muncul di HARI KE-3 pda tanggal 17 Oktober! Tonton kami di jam 7-9 PM waktu Kuala Lumpur, Manila, and Denpasar/6-8 PM waktu Jakarta, Bangkok, Vientiane, Phnom Penh and Hanoi/ 1-3 PM waktu Belanda.

Pekan mode TENUN dapat ditonton secara gratis lewat,

Situs web tenunfashionweek.com
Youtube ‘TENUN Fashion Week’
Facebook ‘TENUN Fashion Week’

Selain itu, sebagai suplemen untuk acara internasional yang diproyeksikan di bidang serat ramah lingkungan dan tekstil, TENUN akan disertai dengan toko online, yang akan tersedia di situs web resmi acara tersebut, dan akan ditutup dengan peragaan busana langsung (bergantung pada COVID- 19 standar) di Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia.

The Significance of Kasuri in Ryukyu Culture

By Elidh McKnight

An introduction to ethnicity in Japan

Japan is a country which is commonly seen as ethnically homogenous, with foreign citizens constituting only 2.2% of its population.[1] Further, the ethnic Japanese population is dominated by the Yamato majority, constituting over 90% of ethnic Japanese citizens.[2]  However, Japan is home to a small number of native ethnic minority groups who hold their own rich cultural histories and traditions, despite historic attempts by various ruling authorities in Japan to culturally homogenize and assimilate these groups.

Among these minority groups are the Ryukyuan people, native to the Ryukyu Islands. This group is a large Japanese ethnolinguistic minority, despite remaining unrecognized as an ethnic minority group by the Japanese government, who ascribe to them the identity of a Yamato subgroup.

Thus, maintenance of Ryukyu culture is paramount, as it has survived colossal challenges. During the Pacific War, the Okinawa islands were ravaged by conflict between the USA and Japan, resulting in the death of many valued Kasuri artisans and destruction of weaving facilities. Despite this, Ryukyu Kasuri was maintained as an artisanal practice through the integration of traditional techniques with modern designs.[3]  This is a testament to the resilience and determination of the Ryukyu people to maintain their cultural traditions.

IMAGE: Traditional Ryukyuan dress in the late period. Source: Wikiwand

Ryukyu Kasuri

Among many other cultural practices, the Ryukyu minority boasts its own form of Japanese Kasuri, which in fact originated in the Ryukyu Kingdom before the Japanese invasion of 1609 caused the diffusion of Kasuri to the mainland.[4] Thus, Ryukyu Kasuri plays an essential founding role in the formation of the traditional Japanese craft of Kasuri and is traditionally a famous Kasuri production area[5]. Ryukyu Kasuri features more than 600 different pattern variations whose inspiration is derived from the flora and fauna found on the island[6], as well as objects from the sky such as stars and clouds and objects used in daily life such as scissors.[7] The motifs can also be humorous, taking inspiration from quirkier sources such as a dog’s footprints or the human eyebrow![8]

As well as the traditional indigo dye, Ryukyu Kasuri derives yellow dye from the bark of the common garcinia tree. The trees must mature over a period of 200 years before they are ready to be used as dye, meaning that the use of this special dye is an inadvertent but very tangible link between present day Kasuri artists and their ancestors.[9]

IMAGE: Examples of Ryukyu Kasuri motifs. Source: HaoTextile

Kijōka Bashōfu

In addition to being arguably the birthplace of Japanese Kasuri, the Ryukyu Islands are known for its production of a particularly unique textile known as kijōka bashōfu. This ancient and unique material is made using banana fibres, which innovatively creates a textile appropriate for the climate of Okinawa by not sticking to the skin.[10] Bashōfu cloth is often used in the production of Kasuri in Okinawa and is greatly valued by the local Ryukyu people as a part of their cultural heritage. Thus, the unique nature of techniques such as this add further value and importance to the preservation of Ryukyu Kasuri as a cultural product of the Ryukyu people, and to its recognition as such. 

IMAGE: Bashofu Kasuri cloth. Source: kimono.org

CCD-NL is proud to feature Ryukyuan artisan Koji Oshiro in the webinar ‘Sharing Kasuri’s Tomorrow’ on 23rd November 2021. As a creator or Ryukyu Kasuri, Oshiro’s family-run weaving factory, Muramasa Orimono Kobo, is based on the island of Okinawa, perhaps the most well-known of the Ryukyu Islands. This provides a rare opportunity to learn more about the art of Ryukyu Kasuri and its cultural significance for the Ryukyu minority group, as well as to help support preservation of the history of the Ryukyu Kingdom and its valuable artisanal traditions by donating to our ‘geef’ campaign.

IMAGE: Koji Oshiro, artisan

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethnic_groups_of_Japan#Native_Japanese_people

[2] https://www.japanpitt.pitt.edu/essays-and-articles/history/ethnic-diversity-and-origins-japanese#:~:text=The%20Yamato%20Japanese%20constitute%20well,of%20the%20inhabitants%20of%20Japan.

[3] https://kogeijapan.com/locale/en_US/ryukyukasuri/

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kasuri

[5] https://kogeijapan.com/locale/en_US/ryukyukasuri/

[6] https://kogeijapan.com/locale/en_US/ryukyukasuri/

[7] https://www.haotextile.com/en/items/ryukyukasuri.html

[8] https://www.haotextile.com/en/items/ryukyukasuri.html

[9] https://www.haotextile.com/en/journal/ryukyukasuri.html

[10] https://kogeijapan.com/locale/en_US/kijokanobashofu/

Maintaining Tradition in a Transitory World: Webinar Recap

By Natasha Rebecca

Kasuri (絣) is a Japanese expression for a fabric woven using a distinct technique that is appreciated for its indigo blue and distinct white patterns. The production method is more familiarly recognised as ‘Ikat’, which translates to ‘to tie’. This rich cultural tradition has withstood the test of time and has settled in the shadows of Japan’s distinctive vibrant cultural heritages.

To shed more light upon the art and history of Kasuri, CCD-NL launched a three-part online webinar series. The webinar concentrated on the past, present, and future of Japanese Kurume Kasuri. Hosted by a diverse set of international speakers varying from traditional Kasuri artisans, scholars, and award-winning Dutch designers who collectively provided better insights on how the history and current production of Kasuri can secure a better future for sustainable textiles.

The second webinar, “Maintaining Tradition in a Transitory World”, was held on 29th April 2021. Laura Luchtman, founder and designer at Kukka Studio, and Kyozo Shimogawa, Kasuri, craftsman and the third-generation owner of Shimogawa Orimono, spoke about the difficulties and predicaments enclosing on the modern state of Kasuri handicraft and traditional products through the design process while balancing art projects and commercial production and the limits of working with Kasuri in the contemporaneous day-to-day production.

In the webinar, Laura Luchtman reflected on the contrast between the Netherlands and Japan in recognizing and utilizing handi-crafts and traditional production techniques. Shimogawa joined that the common distinctive difference is that Japan preserves traditional techniques in daily life through commercial and profitable production which leads to a generation of jobs to various talented craftsmen. While in Europe traditional pieces are only conserved in museums. “This is due to the scarcity of traditional pieces left in the Netherlands”, explained Luchtman. Luchtmans view was that traditional crafts are understood by the long hours, days or even months used to fabricate a single design and is consequently interpreted valuably in commercial production and should be rarely used in daily life… “This system is made by the history,” Shimogawa pointed out.

When it comes to Kasuri design, Shimogawa considered how digital technology has displayed a helping hand for craftsmen, suggesting that craftsmen are not compelled to make all designs by hand. He then emphasised that preserving Kasuri in the traditional technique and customs would enable the artisan to grasp the spirit of the heritage of creation.

The upcoming webinar, “Sharing Kasuri’s Tomorrow”, will be held on 23 November 2021, where sustainable textile artisans from Shimogawa Orimono and Marumasa Orimono debate about the future of Kasuri. This webinar will highlight how the cultural and social ties between the Netherlands and Japan can better and improve the preservation of Kasuri. In honour of the Inoue Den’s principle, CCD-NL is gifting our webinar free of charge.

Register now at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/sharing-kasuris-tomorrow-tickets-166031106509

Everything we do – from cultural development research to helping provide materials for Kasuri artisans and is made possible thanks to people who share the passion for preserving valuable cultural heritage and traditions.

Donate now in https://www.geef.nl/nl/actie/fund-kasuri/donateurs

The Historical Journey of Japanese Kasuri: Webinar Recap

By Natasha Rebecca

Kasuri (絣) is a Japanese expression for fabric woven using a specific technique known for its indigo, blue, and white pattern. Its production method is more familiarly known as ‘Ikat’, which means ‘to tie’. This beautiful cultural tradition has withstood the test of time but has remained mostly hidden in the shadow of Japan’s other vibrant cultural heritages. To shed more light upon the art of Kasuri and its history, CCD-NL launched a three-part online webinar series focusing on the past, present and future of Japanese Kurume Kasuri. The series features a variety of speakers, including Kasuri artisans, scholars, and designers, who together provide deeper insights into the history, production, and sustainable future of Kasuri.

The first webinar of the Kurume Kasuri series, “The Historical Journey of Japanese Kasuri”, took place on 26 November 2020 with Kyozo Shimogawa, a Kurume Kasuri craftsman. The third-generation owner of Shimogawa Orimono (Shimogawa Textiles) has been crafting Kurume Kasuri for 26 years, and was given the Minister of Economy, Trade, and Industry Award at the 2015 Manufacturing Japan Awards.

Originating in 1800, Kurume Kasuri was invented by 12-year old Inoue Den, based on her concern about white spots occurring due to uneven indigo dyeing of cotton fabric being produced in the Kurume area. Den experimented with unwinding the cloth to intentionally create white patterns in the indigo-dyed fabrics. Thus, the Kasuri technique was born. While, generally, craftsmanship is a confidential matter, Den taught her crafts to thousands of her disciples free of charge. Fitting of her name, Den, meaning ‘to convey’, she lived a life which continued to convey the Kurume Kasuri technique, alongside various others who contributed to its development, making it a widely produced textile in the Chikugo district.

During the transition between the Edo era and the Meiji era, Kurume Kasuri became popular nationwide due to its distribution by peddlers. Through the remodeling of looms, the devising of patterns, the development of sales channels, the emergence of factories, and the acquisition of patents, Kurume Kasuri has evolved to support the local economy as a major industry. Handwoven fabrics using the Kasuri technique were produced not only in shops and factories but also domestically in the homes of weavers, increasing the number of Kurume Kasuri producers. Moreover, Kurume Kasuri established a union which strives for quality control, earning a positive reputation throughout the country.

Even with the increasing progression of industrialization in Japan and the introduction of power looms after 1880, Kurume Kasuri maintained the principle of hand-weaving to avoid losing its reputation due to geographical factors and deterioration of quality. In 1934, power looms were finally used in combination with the crafts’ handwork while, simultaneously, fully hand-woven Kurume Kasuri continues to be made. During the Pacific War, production of cotton thread decreased due to the cotton yarn regulation. It was revived after the regulation was lifted and peaked at 14,880,000 m/year in 1957. However, the production has been declining since then due to the widespread use of chemical fibers and the decline of daily kimono wear, forcing producers out of business almost every year. As of 2020, the number of Kurume Kasuri producers has decreased to approximately 18, and the only production areas in Japan which have inherited the Kasuri technique are using power looms.

Considering recent events, a professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, Toshimitsu Musya, developed a product focusing on the fact that the fluctuation of the phenomenon 1/f, which is universally seen in the natura world, brings comfort. The unique pattern fluctuations can be produced only by the Kasuri manufacturing method. A manufacturing method which coexists with nature and aligns with a sustainable modern way of thinking. “The charm of Kasuri is being recognized again,” said Shimogawa as he closed the informational session.

The fascinating history behind the Kasuri technique serves as a precious cultural narrative, inspiring not only Kyozo Shimogawa himself but also Madoka Koga, a Kasuri designer, and Nozomi Kanehara, a Kasuri enthusiast, as they gathered in a room for a fruitful discussion. They admired the talent and creativity of Inoue Den to create of the Kasuri method, and acknowledged the creative challenges weavers, both then and now, face to create unique art. The Japanese textile heritage has also inspired Laura Luchtman, a Dutch designer and Founder of Kukka Studio, to travel to Japan and research deeper into the textile regions, observing and connecting with the local weavers. Watch the whole webinar here!

Following this exploration of Kurume Kasuri’s past, the second webinar, “Maintaining Tradition in a Transitory World”, was held on 29 April 2021. Laura Luchtman and Kyozo Shimogawa spoke about the foreign ties between Kasuri and other textile practices, especially how Japanese and Dutch Artisans can work together concretely. Curious and want to know more? Watch the webinar here and read our article here!

The last upcoming webinar, “Sharing Kasuri’s Tomorrow”, will be held on 23 November 2021 in which Laura Luctman, Kyozo Shimogawa, Koji Oshiro and Leki Nagahara will discuss the future of Kasuri. This diverse webinar will highlight how the cultural ties and understanding between the Netherlands and Japan can help with Kasuri’s preservation. In honor of Inoue Den’s principle, CCD-NL is providing the event free of charge! Register now in https://www.eventbrite.com/e/sharing-kasuris-tomorrow-tickets-166031106509

Everything we do – from cultural development research to helping provide materials for Kasuri artisans – is made possible thanks to people like you who share our passion for preserving valuable cultural heritage. Please consider giving a donation to our foundation because your support is vital to building a sustainable development through culture. Donate now via https://www.geef.nl/nl/actie/fund-kasuri/donateurs

CCD-NL's Reuse and Recycle Project: Building Sustainability and Adaptability

Spearheaded by CCD-NL’s Julia Landers, the Reuse and Recycle of Ikat into Design and Fashion Pieces project looks to simultaneously aid Ikat artisans develop more sustainable practices, while further empowering their products in an international market by collaborating with Dutch and Indonesian designers and CCD-NL to produce new high-end products using leftover materials from Ikat production.

The Project

“While crafting traditional Ikats, artisans will inevitable have leftover Ikat fragments- yarn, trimmings, leftover materials- and right now they are unfortunately being thrown away, as local artisans lack the necessary resources to recycle or repurpose these extra materials. This is where we saw an opportunity to both make the Ikat a more sustainable craft, while also creating a new product and market for artisans,” said project lead Julia Landers.

“The initiative is planning to send these various leftovers to both Dutch and Indonesian designers who will try to collaborate on incorporating the various leftover materials into new creative high-end fashion and interior design products. Then over on our end at CCD-NL we will handle funding, marketing and eventually the manufacturing of these new Ikat products.”

Sustainable and fashionable goals

We probed Julia for what some of the long-term goals for the project might be, and she responded saying, “This is all a part of CCD-NL’s ongoing goals of promoting the development of Ikat artisans without compromising the sustainability of Ikat products. Not just that though, we’re trying to make them even more sustainable! We’re all trying to be part of a sustainability movement, considering the origins of materials, the conditions of the artisans, and other efforts while further empowering further cultural and economic development.

“Hopefully, the Reuse and Recycle project will create a variety of new successful Ikat products to further supplement the artisans. It’s not just that however, part of the over-arching goals are to further encourage international interest in the rich history of Ikat crafts and engage artisans to consider and create in a more sustainable fashion, and these new products can do just that.”

Support sustainable fashion and design

Julia told us, “While we are very excited about the Reuse and Recycle project, it is still in the planning stage. Though, I can say we have multiple avenues for pushing the project forwards and have already have designers interested in being a part of the project.”

Ajitesh Lokhande: "Technology and Cultural Preservation"

Ajitesh Lokhande is a member of the Digikat team and a graphic designer who has chosen to share his thoughts and ideas in advance of attending CCD-NL’s Kasuri Crafts seminar as a speaker. Digikat is exploring how Ikat patterns can be transferred into digital mediums and testing how cultural identities can be preserved through modern products.

Crafts and the graphic designer

Originally hailing from Mumbai and now living and working in Paris, Ajitesh told us of his early fascination with Ikat, “I did my undergraduate studies in graphic design at the National Institute of Design, and the NID’s renowned textile department featured a series of Ikats as well as other similar crafts. From there I went on to work with a variety of brands and markets, but always remembered and held an interest with traditional cultural products.”

“Now as a member of Digitkat I am working on a project we call Oriqat. Together we’re working on developing an all-new optical recognition code, one which could be embedded into Ikat fabrics seamlessly. This recognition code would act almost like an artist’s signature, but would be able to contain so much more information like the artisan who produced the Ikat, where it originated from, and would mark the Ikat as authentic, and so on. We’re hoping Oriqat can embed traceability into Ikat products, as well as giving both recognition to the weaver and assurance of authenticity to buyers.”

Digitizing traditional crafts

“We’re already seeing Ikat being molded and adapted into an increasingly digital age. There are the Ikat ‘prints,’ replicating the aesthetics and designs of Ikat but only applied surface deep over existing textiles. While fine on their own, I don’t think this kind of surface level replication will be enough to preserve the cultural knowledge of Ikat production.”

Ajitesh continued describing ways in which he saw Ikat becoming increasingly embraced technologically, “There is this rising DIY culture, along with is a growing appreciation of handmade products. While this is an optimistic niche for Ikat, I don’t think it’s enough for Ikat to firmly find a place in popular culture. It needs to evolve. Needs to find it’s place by tackling issues of sustainability, accessibility, and cultural authenticity while spreading globally. Working to facilitate these DIY Ikat projects globally, while still providing a solid connection to their cultural origins may prove very beneficial to preserving Ikat in the future.”

Kasuri Webinar: An opportunity for exposure and collaboration

Ajitesh told us, “I’m really looking forward to the upcoming webinar, I think something like this really leverages the connection of the digital age in the service of traditional culture. Just getting people together and discussing Kasuri and Ikat would be great on its own, but we might even be able to form concrete collaborative projects from the connections made. Not to mention how people and organizations might see the potential these crafts have as products and would maybe partner with CCD-NL to make them more available globally.”

Get Involved in preserving culture!

“I think the Kasuri project is a superb initiative and I’m glad I got to be a part of it. Its collaborative, cross cultural approach will ensure good outcomes whether in terms of product ideas or preservation strategies. I hope CCD-NL continues to work with this approach towards revitalizing cultural heritage around the world.”

Urban Medley: A journey to promote tradition and art forms sustainable and respectful to the environment

The concept we proudly call Urban Medley was based on a deep-rooted urge and passion to give back to the land I loved, India. To make a difference to the lives of its master craftsmen and artisans. I started this journey to promote sustainable, handmade fashion accessories from India and to bring to the consumers in Europe products which balance tradition with contemporary design.

Urban Medley was scheduled to launch Christmas of 2019, however, there were certain technical glitches which pushed back our launch and finally we launched around February 2020, just about when the world was being engulfed by the pandemic- COVID19.

Yes, we launched Urban Medley just as Corona cemented its hold on this part of Europe, especially in Netherlands. This was an unimaginable experience which taught us much as entrepreneurs and as people. The hardships faced convinced us more than ever how important it was to make this a success and take our story forward. It had never been so crucial that we change the way we live and consume – The world had changed!

As a brand Urban Medley is presently working with peace or cruelty free silk and Organic Black (Kala) cotton. Our product line for now is confined to scarves, wraps and capes- products which are not limited by size and body shape and in some cases can also be considered gender neutral.

So, what is peace or ahimsa silk?  Not every consumer is aware that there is a cruelty free way of producing silk. Instead of boiling the cocoon in hot water while the silkworm is still alive, as it is done in conventional silk production, in case of peace silk we wait for the silkworm to cut through the cocoon as it metamorphoses into a moth and discards the cocoon. The yarn is spun from the discarded cocoon and then woven into silk fabric. Spinning and weaving is done by hand and the silk yield in this method is much less than when you boil the cocoon- however as a process it is more ethical, cruelty free and sustainable. It retains the purest qualities of silk.

Cotton, as we are aware, is not one of the most sustainable simply because of the excessive amount of water required for its cultivation- however KALA organic cotton is an old-world cotton which is completely rain fed and uses no synthetic fertilizer or chemical pesticide. This is a resilient variety of cotton traditional to the Kutch region of Gujrat in Western India. 

We work with small designers who are themselves strong advocates of sustainability, and almost all our products are handmade. The designers work directly with the artisans at times, while the artisans are working directly out of their homes. The artisans work at their pace or in small workshops, and the atmosphere is almost like an extended family where each is doing what they are best at. As a group, the artisans are passionate about taking their art to the global market, and it is important to note as we work with artisans we strive to give them the opportunity to be economically independent and do what they are best at doing’.

Our silk is hand block printed, we use bright colours, elements from nature or bold geometric strokes. The cotton is more subtle and neutral. We try to make our design stands out. Sustainable accessories and apparel too can be exciting.

In addition to handblock printing we also promote Madhubani art – a traditional art form 2500 years old. In ancient times Mahbubani was a mural art exclusively practised by women, traditionally used to decorate the walls of temples and houses. In ancient times the art was never preserved as rain would wash the wall paintings, but the skill and expertise was passed on from one generation to the next- from mother to daughter. Much later in the 1960s- and purely by accident- this art was transposed on paper and later fabric, making it accessible worldwide.

As a brand at Urban Medley, we would like to introduce you to the items produced by upcoming designers and artisans from India who are working relentlessly to revive traditional art forms using sustainable fabrics and methods of production. By promoting and marketing these products we help to empower the marginalized and give them the opportunity to make a decent living doing what they are best at- enhancing their centuries old arts and crafts.

Urban Medley is not about mass production and machine-made perfection, it is all handcrafted, so there is room for minute imperfections and minor blemishes which then translates to the uniqueness of the final product and therefore no two will be an exact copy

We are an ardent advocate of the Sustainable Development Goals, and always are conscious of the social impact of our business. We are mindful of the fact that our artisan community is paid fairly and there is no gender discrimination.

We comply with sustainable production standards, support economic growth and help encourage gender equality working in conjunction with our brilliant team of designers and artisans.

When you shop at Urban Medley you promote ethical production and get yourself an heirloom accessory and something very exclusive.

Perspectives on Kasuri crafts with artisan Kyozo Shimogawa

CCD-NL’s upcoming Kasuri crafts webinar will feature a variety of talented artisans, one of which is Japanese Kurume Kasuri artisan Kyozo Shimogawa. He has agreed to speak with us ahead of the seminar about both his unique experiences and offer us sneak peek into what he hopes to accomplish with CCD-NL in the future.

A History with Kasuri

We began by asking Shimogawa to elaborate more on his background surrounding Kasuri, and he told us how, “I was basically born with Kurume Kasuri; it was a part of my family before I was born, so it is almost second nature to me. My family is very traditional, and we have been making Kasuri for decades and that history and tradition is something that gives courage to other people. It reminds us of who we are and how far we have come, and there is a strength and comfort in that.”

Shimogawa went on saying, “I have been working with Kasuri for over 27 years, and in this time I have worked with various people in the international community to promote and spread knowledge of Kasuri. Now I am happy to be taking part in these webinars to further spread awareness of Kasuri farther than ever.”

Kurume Kasuri in a Globalized World

We at CCD-NL asked Shimogawa to describe where he sees Kasuri today as part of a global culture and market. He considered the situation with Kasuri to be “very special and unique” even among various Ikat textiles.

“I think to preserve Kasuri in our increasingly modernized world we need to create a stable economic environment to form strong business relationships. In Western culture traditions are usually preserved by placing them in museum, placing them away from people. Separate. However, in Japan cultural traditions are preserved through normal daily use. We use these traditional crafts and objects as a normal part of daily life. Its this difference that I think of most when considering how to preserve Kasuri globally. How can we bring Kasuri into daily life for more people, and keep it there?“

The Kasuri Project Webinar

“When the Kasuri project was first introduced, I was invited to Rotterdam – but for obvious reasons, including Covid-19 – that did not work out. Yet, I think by moving these webinars online we have had other advantages, and it has created more opportunities to promote Kasuri reach a greater number of people. Rather than me spending countless hours and all my energy moving from place to place trying to promote Kasuri, I can reach everyone at once from the comfort of my own home. It is exactly this type of innovation which will help sustain Kasuri into the future.”

We probed Shimogawa for his thoughts on working with a Dutch designer for the first time during this next upcoming webinar, and he stated how, “Its very exciting and I’m looking forward to exchanging ideas and perspectives. It will make for a more dynamic and exciting experience for us, and our viewers. We are even going to be working a proposal for a collaborative project to further enable this exchange.”

Shimogawa went on to describe his aspirations for the seminar saying, “I think everyone’s reasons for attending these webinars are unique. For me personally, I am looking forward to forging new business relations with the other guests. I hope that the exchange of ideas and opinions will also create new ideas, techniques, and relationships which facilitates completely new changes and developments.”

Preservation through Adaptation

“But what I would like to say now is that I believe cultural traditions – in my case Kurume Kasuri – can only be sustained and preserved through adaptation into the world of today. We can’t expect the world to stay the same to accommodate our traditions, it’s always changing, and so our traditions need to change to fit into a changing world.”

CCD-NL's Kasuri Project: The Concept of Heritage

In addition to our work preserving Ikats, CCD-NL is advocating for the preservation and development of similar interrelated textiles such as Japan’s Kasuri. Our team member Momoko Takayama has been continuing the work for our Kasuri Project conducting a series of webinars to spread awareness of Kasuri textiles, and was excited to share her thoughts and experiences.

What is Kasuri?

Initially we tried asking Momoko what exactly is Kasuri, but that was not as straightforward as we believed, Momoko saying how, “Kasuri is very broad, and isn’t even fundamentally Japanese; it’s based on using Ikat techniques, that we think, originated in Indonesia. To describe Kasuri, it is most accurate to say Kasuri is Japan’s unique take on Ikat, Japan’s interpretation of Ikat.”

“Ikat, Kasuri, and other similar textiles are all interrelated, and not only did they initially grow and develop off each other, over the centuries they each continued to change and influence each other. All these crafts and textiles are interconnected, it was and still is a constant give and take. Nothing is just itself, everything is connected. You can’t discuss Kasuri without considering the wider context.”

The Kasuri Project

“The Kasuri Project originated in 2019, and it was meant to shine a new light unto the practices and history of Kasuri. Here in the Netherlands there are zero displays of Kasuri materials, and it is not a textile in daily use here. That speaks to one of the fundamental differences between how Western and Eastern Cultures preserve their culture. In the West culture is preserved by being displayed in a museum, while in Japan for instance we preserve Kasuri by continuing to wear and use them in daily life.”

“I think this intersection is a great place where East and West can both learn from each other, and CCD-NL’s Kasuri Project is already in the perfect place to facilitate this exchange, preserving Kasuri as a cultural object while also facilitating its use in daily life.”

Webinars within and across cultures

We talked with Momoko on how we could achieve such a lofty goal, and she describe how, “So far to pursue our goal we have been hosting a series of webinars with Kasuri artisans, based on the past, present, and future. “

“Yesterday focused on the historical connections Kasuri has in Asia and Europe. Today discussed how to maintain these cultural connections. While our upcoming seminar Tomorrow will emphasize a sustainable focus when preserving heritage. Our current digital and technological era is changing how preserve and even conceive culture. So our guest speakers will demo the environmentally friendly techniques they use, which can still be linked to traditional Kasuri. Just like the webinars we’re doing for Ikat.”

“Right now our cultural preservation efforts are still quite separate, except the cultures really aren’t separate. I think the Kasuri project and CCD-NL are at the forefront of showing how interconnected Ikat and Kasuri are, and that’s just a single example.”

Get to know some Ikat Artisans! Part 3: With Marsa Fattu

Join us with this final view into the lives of just a few of the Ikat artisans we are working with here at CCD-NL. Marsa Fattu is the leader of the Pelestrian Ikat Rote-Ndao (PIRN) weaving group in Rote-Ndao, who we have been working with to help spread awareness of new techniques and technology to improve the lives and crafts of Ikat artisans.

Marsa Fattu

Marsa is the leader of the Pelestrian Ikat Rote-Ndao (PIRN) weaving group in Rote-Ndao, and she focuses on crafting various textiles such as bags, shawls, and other home goods from the finished Ikat weavings, as well as handling much of the modern logistical work surrounding Ikat.

Feraldi: In your own words, as someone who works with them every day, what is Ikat to you?

Marsa: To me, Ikat is an art form, not just a craft or a skill, and it deserves to be preserved, it needs to be preserved. It’s not just art though, it’s also a cornerstone for our communities, and without Ikats they would crumble away.

Feraldi: So, what do you do as part of your community, what part do you play in making Ikats?

Marsa: Today, I mostly handle the outside concerns, so the artisans can focus on exactly that, their art. I help out with things like marketing, searching for sponsors, and other technical concerns. Also, CCD-NL has encouraged our artisans to move away from our usual chemical dyes

Feraldi: That’s interesting, and how is that going? I understand that there has been some challeneges convincing many artisans to move away from chemical dyes.

Marsa: The Ikat artisans are beginning to slowly recognize the benefits of natural dyes over chemical dyes. While the chemical dyes are easier and consume less water, they are also toxic. Most don’t even understand the risks of using the artificial dyes, while it may be more difficult at times, we are making strides in not only introducing natural dyes, but CCD-NL is finding ways to help make them more practical and affordable as well.

Feraldi: I think that’s great you’re making progress, but I am surprised the artisans are so hesitant. Didn’t they use natural dyes in the past?

Marsa: Yes, but it has been many many decades since then, most artisans today have used the chemical dyes their whole lives. Back when the artificial dyes were first introduced, naturally the artisans saw how it could make the dyeing faster and easier, while the health issues where completely unknown. In many ways now we are trying to return to those traditional dyes, and CCD-Nl is helping us find ways take advantage of modern resources to make using natural dyes more convenient and competitive in the market.

Feraldi: Now, I know a concern still on a lot of people’s minds around the world is Covid-19. How has the pandemic affected your and the other artisans work?

Marsa: It has had a huge impact. There are less tourist, our primary customers, and our sales have dropped drastically. This has lowered the prices of our Ikats. We are really struggling; nobody buys out Ikats now.

Feraldi: I’m really sorry to hear that, and I know many people can sympathize with your struggles. Have you had any ideas on ways to compensate?

Marsa: Thankfully we have, after attending some trainings with CCD-NL we are developing new Ikat patterns and motifs, in addition to providing a series of projects for our artisans to work on over the course of the pandemic. We are already beginning to see some promising results from these new designs, and are looking for more ways to apply new ideas into our traditional Ikats, and I hope these will reinvigorate interest in our community’s crafts

Feraldi: So it seems that in your community today, there is this push to synthesize the past and the future together? Would that be accurate?

Marsa: I’m not sure I can say for sure for everyone, but it does seem that way. We value our old way of life, but understand we also need to be willing to change with the times if we want to preserve it.

Feraldi: So on that note, where do you see your work moving towards into the future?

Marsa: I hope the issues surrounding the pandemic begin to improve soon. I hope that we will improve our relations to using natural dyes. I hope there will be more people interested in buying Ikats so our communities can flourish. It is hard though, we have no idea how to achieve these hopes. 

Feraldi: Once again, I am sorry, but hopefully we can work together to help you solve those problems.

Marsa: Thank you.

CCD-NL's Online Museum: Reaching more people with less

While Covid-19 has affected everyone’s life in different ways, at CCD-NL we have been inspired to find new more radical means of pursuing our goals of education, cooperation, and development. We spoke about the with our team member Lavinia Gandha who along with Amit Ben Ari and Brodhie Molloy are hard at work creating an online museum to Ikat, offering the cultural enrichment and international understanding of a museum, but available to more people than ever before.

Inspiration in adversity

We asked Lavinia where the concept of an online museum began, and she told us how, “A concept we all shared at CCD-NL for some time was that we could found a traditional museum dedicated to Ikat artisans and their crafts. It would give us a new platform where we could showcase just how great Ikats are and would be able to take the distant ideas of people on the other side of the world and make it more– what’s the word? More real. If you could see and learn what goes into making them it would reinforce the connection between the people who visit the museum and artisans all the way on the other side of the world.”

An ideal new platform for the past

“Despite the great concept though, the resources, funding, and expertise were far beyond anything available to us. Then when the pandemic began, and every workplace and industry began moving to online platforms, we realized that we could create our own online museum. With a virtual online museum we could lower the barriers of a museum; it would be both easier to build and more accessible to patrons as well. We could reach a broader target audience who could visit us from anywhere in the world. So maybe a traditional museum could still be one of our goals for the future in the long-term, but the virtual museum has unique advantages as well.”

The past, present, and future

“An online museum really represents a blend between the past, the present, and the future.”  This idea was especially fascinating, so Lavinia elaborated more saying how, “The museum could showcase the history of Ikat as a craft going back generations with displays and historical information.

The Past.

We could showcase the latest developments of the artisans, and how our efforts are changing how they work and the Ikats the weave.

The Present.

Then the museum itself is entirely virtual and is helping not only to preserve this traditional craft but push it forward to people all over the world.

The Future.

Become part of a changing future
If you are curious about seeing our online museum’s progress for yourself you can follow our development by subscribing to our bimonthly newsletter here. You can also support our other efforts to support the culture and development of Ikat artisans by following our social media here, or buying from our Facebook shop where all profits will go directly to artisan and Ikat development.

Get to know some Ikat Artisans! Part 2: with Syriat Tole

Syariat Tole is the chief of the Gunung Mako weaving group in Alor. She also plays a vital role in teaching and educating the next generation of artisans to craft Ikats, in addition to her work selling and marketing the finished Ikats while facilitating the efforts of the other artisans.

Feraldi: So as the chief of your weaving group, what kind of work are you doing typically?

Syariat: As chief, a big part of what I do is focused on passing and preserving our Ikat weaving. To do this I teach children- from young children all the way through high school- Ikat weaving. I want them to know the art of making Ikats, to tell the stories of the origins of our Ikats, to remember our patterns and designs, to understand what they mean.

Feraldi: I can really feel how important preserving Ikats are to you, what are some of the current obstacles you are trying to overcome regarding your Ikats?

Syariat: Here in Alor, we are looking at ways not only to preserve our traditional of Ikat weaving, but also trying to find ways to bring it into the future. I am doing a lot of work now to train and teach artisans to begin using natural dyes. We’re also trying to find new ways to sell and distribute our Ikats locally and even looking at international markets, thanks to CCD-NL’s network and resources.

During the pandemic I did my best to keep our sales moving by expanding locally to new customers in neighboring churches, mosques, and people with different clothing sizes than we accounted for in the past. Despite these efforts we still are seeing many artisans struggling financially, and not just the artisans but their children and families who can’t pay living and educational costs.

Feraldi: How do you feel about these changes and measures? Do you believe they are effective so far?

Syariat: I feel there is really no way to know. All I know for sure is I am doing everything I can to preserve our culture here in the present. Are these new ideas going to see success? I can’t say for sure. But what I can say is I have prepared the next generation to continue doing what I am doing now, and that’s what’s most important. That’s something I know will continue into the future. We all need to unite together.

Feraldi: I am sorry I made things so grim, but I’m sure we at CCD-NL will try our best to support your efforts as well. It’s like you said, we all need to unite together.

Syariat: Thank you, I am looking forward to what we make together.

Get to know some Ikat Artisans! Part 1: with Selviana B'oi do

In preparation for an upcoming live webinar with a few Indonesian Ikat artisans the Center for Development and Culture –The Netherlands’ Feraldi Ramadhana sat down to discuss daily life and some of the struggles traditional Ikat artisans are facing today, with our three part series. With special thanks to our team member Riha for her excellent translation work.

Selviana B’oi do

Selviana is not only the chief of the Wehor Hadomi Weaving Group in Belu, Nusa Tenggara Timur, but she also handles the majority of work maintaining her home and taking care of her family, like many Ikat weavers.

Faraldi: Selviana, why don’t we start off with just telling me a bit about the daily life of an Ikat weaver?

Selviana: Well, not only am I a weaver, but I am also a housewife. However, here there is often little distinction between being a weaver and a housewife; weaving is just something that the women of our community do to help contribute to our families.

Every morning I wake up and prepare breakfast, and then I start weaving. At noon I stop weaving in order to prepare lunch. After having lunch with my family, I continue weaving. Then the same with dinner as well. My life revolves between caring for my family and my weaving.

Feralid: I know to you this might seem obvious, but for the sake of our readers, what is Ikat for you?

Selviana: Ikat is a motif or a pattern that I need to weave, and each pattern has a meaning. For example, I weaved a motif of spearheads which symbolizes not only war, but also celebration. Before I could only weave this pattern, but recently thanks to training with CCD-NL I learned how to make new Ikat patterns. Recently, I combined old motifs with the new weaving pattern to create a new textile for a bride and groom at their wedding. I hope that they were happy wearing the Ikat I made for them. 

Feraldi: That’s really interesting, and I’m glad our training has helped you. How much has your weaving changed since you starting working with us at CCD-NL?

Selviana: I used to weave only with the older styles my ancestors taught us, but after CCD-NL offered us the training, I can now create my own motifs and weave using new techniques. I am so grateful for that, it has really made a difference. Since the pandemic Ikat sales have not been very good, and the price has dropped. I’m not giving up though! I am determined to keep weaving and earn the money to pay for my children’s education

In addition to all this, CCD-NL has also helped by providing us with essentials we have needed through recent crises. We recently were struck with a cyclone, and you helped us by providing food, clean water, medicine, and other neccesities. Then later your Yarn & Dyes campaign from Geef helped provide us with yarn, dyes, a new water tank, and other essentials we need for our Ikat work. Without Ikat we would have no way to provide for ourselves, and so the Ikat materials were nearly as valuable as the necessities.  

Feraldi: That’s amazing, but it leaves me wondering how had Covid-19 affected your life as an Ikat artisan?

 Selviana: It has hit our sales hard.

Feraldi: Have you come up with any new ideas to try and get your business back in spite of the pandemic?

Selviana: I’m really hoping CCD-NL can help us with how we can market the new Ikats they have already helped us design and make. They are doing a considerable amount of e-commerce for us as well, and I am optimistic we will begin seeing results there soon.

Feraldi: I’m sure together we can find a way.

Selviana: I feel the same way.

Feraldi: Looking into the future now, what are some other problems that maybe we can try to help you with? Do you have any ideas on how we can work together to try and solve them?

Selviana: Recently, many of Wehor Hadomi Group’s members have left because there is a lack of materials during the dry seasons. In addition to the water needed during the coloring process, the dry season makes it difficult to collect plants and trees we use to make our natural dyes. The Tarum leaves to create the indigo color, or even just common mud to produce shades of black are just a couple examples of materials that are essential to making Ikats that are hard to obtain because of the drought. It won’t stop me though. I won’t stop weaving, and I only hope there will be more people to join me.

There is hope, though. Thanks to you at CCD-NL we now have water tanks as part of a better water harvesting system to collect as much water as possible when we have heavy rainfall in order to meet the demands for water during the coloring process. You have also helped us to pcure new yarn, dyes, and seedlings. I just wanted to take a second and thank you and your donors.

Feraldi:  Well, you are very welcome. I’m sure everyone here just wants to see you and the other artisans succeed. With the help you have received so far, how do you see your work as an Ikat artisan developing from here?

Selviana: I don’t think the work will change, not that much at least. We have begun to see changes, from your support, and from the world, and even within our own culture. For now, we just have to keep weaving, and we have to keep passing this tradition on to the younger generation. 

CCD-NL Ikat Platform for Culture Preservation and Sustainable Development

Julita Oetojo is finishing up her time as a part of the 2021 International Online Summer Course on Jogja World Batik City: Balancing Creative Economy and Heritage Saujana Conservation to Foster Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As part of her final examination she wants to share her experiences in the course hosted by the Center for Heritage Conservation Department of Architecture & Planning, Universitas Gadjah Mada, Indonesia.

Why take part in the course?

Julita joined the course as a board of advisor from CCD-NL and as an advisor from Pelestarian Ikat Rote Ndao (PIRN). PIRN is a member of CCD-NL Ikat Platform based in Indonesia #ccdnlikatplatform. She spends her time advising and coaching Ikat artisans, and believed registering for the summer course would further facilitate her efforts.

Elaborating further, Julita said, “I was interested in in the topic of balancing traditional heritage as part of the creative economy, as CCD-NL and PIRN aims to preserve the culture, the economy, and the creative industry of these communities while further reinforcing international relations. I found that many of the SDG’s targets for empowering the weaving community aligned with the CCD-NL’s and PIRN’s goals, including eliminating poverty, promoting gender equality, facilitating high quality work, and pushing for sustainable economic growth, just to name a few. The course seemed the perfect intersection of what I was already doing and what I hoped to do. “

A series of engaging and interesting activities

Julita described the course itself as, “Well it had a great variety of different activities: a series of online webinars, various e-public forum, and an assignment to write a paper on a specific topic of my choice. I chose to write about using online platforms supporting the creative economy towards sustainable development in a time of crisis, and unfortunately this past year gave me plenty of opportunities to study this, but hopefully my research can help prevent more crises in the future.

What I took from the course

“Overall the course was really helpful and I learned a lot. The international e-public forums had a great variety of different speakers and offered them a platform to share their ideas with us and with each other, and I think that alone is invaluable. Also, the mentoring stations and group discussions facilitated a further intermixing and sharing of ideas, allowing each participant to draw on more knowledge than any one person possessed.

I feel I’ve discovered so much through the course. Personally, I’ve added a considerable amount of knowledge and skills to my repertoire, as well as expanded my personal and professional network. If I need advice or a second opinion, that’s even more great people I can call on. Meanwhile, for the various organizations I am a member of I’ve learned how to facilitate further collaboration between distinct but aligned groups. I’ve seen the great steps that have been taken in preserving Batik crafts, and having them be declared by UNESCO as Masterpieces of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity 2019. This made me realized we can use these strides as a role model for Ikat as well. We can observe what worked and didn’t work in achieving this recognition for Batik, and not only imitate them, but even further improve upon these strategies.”

Expanding our mission

During COVD-19 pandemic CCD-NL Ikat platform actively preserving culture, sustainable development and empowering the Ikat artisans not only in Indonesia but also Ikat artisans in Japan and India through webinars, trainings, our e-shop with all profits going towards preserving culture, promotions in social media, crowdfunding, and disaster emergency relief via our various platforms. Follow along with our activities at www.ccd-nl.org or follow our hashtag #ccdnlikatplatform.

A brief history of CCD-NL: A talk with founder Yetty Van Der Made Haning

We sat down with our founder Yetty van der Made-Haning hoping she could provide for us an idea of why she chose to found the Center for Culture and Development – The Netherlands, and give anyone interested in joining or supporting our organization a better idea of who we are, and what we are doing.

Rooted in a legal tradition

Speaking of her background and work before founding the Center, Yetty described how, “I originally trained to be an international lawyer, with a focus on international studies. During my early legal career however, I quickly found more and more that I was more attracted towards the developmental side of my work, supporting the creation of flourishing communities. Working at various NGO’s and international organizations, including the UN Tribunal, I began to feel I could do more beyond just the scope of the existing law. I believed that the law could be used to further lift people up all around the globe.

Motivated by human rights

“Back in 2011, The University of Leiden announced a project on preserving cultural heritage, and I recognized that my legal work was stagnating. I just did not find the drive or passion in my legal career at that point. With some gentle coaxing from my boss at the time, I chose to accept the position. I simply needed the change, and was confident I could adapt to the new environment.”

We asked Yetty what it was about global development which drew her so much, and she replied how human rights lay at the core of everything she hopes to accomplish with the organization. “I understood we had to be very sensitive in dealing with various conflicts and local political levels. In many places where I began looking into there was a history of colonialization, so we had to be sure that we were, and are, very careful to respect the autonomy of the people we work with. If we don’t offer the people this level of respect, it only creates further tension with no way to move forward.

Discovering the Ikat

“My father, a cultural anthropologist, told me I had to start with a culture I was already familiar with, how intangible heritages were very important. With this in mind I chose to begin my new work in my country of origin Indonesia, trying to build new bridges socially, economically, and politically. Early on as I began working in this new field, I remembered from my youth my mother and grandmother weaving these beautiful Ikats, these amazing and intricate handmade textiles. I also remembered other artisans selling these same Ikats door to door, but upon returning as an adult they were nowhere to be found, and it was then I knew this apparent loss of cultural heritage was something I wanted to investigate further.

Before long after beginning my field work in Indonesia, I learned that the crafts, despite how precious they are to local cultures and economies, were rapidly disappearing.” Yetty described a wide variety of factors that were gradually chipping away at traditional Ikat production, including:

  • The older generation passing away and their children and grandchildren’s lack of time or need for more profitable work.
  • The environmental impact on Ikat production (water usage, cotton farming, dye production) was still a complete mystery.
  • Ikats were no longer economically viable to individuals and their communities.

These were only a handful of the issues threatening traditional Ikat artisans. According to Yetty, “If there is no infrastructure to aid in the understanding and preservation of culture, then it will disappear. This was my inspiration to devote myself to preserving Ikat culture.”

The beginnings of CCD-NL

“Early on after discovering my passion to preserving Ikats, I did extensive research and networking in order to encourage the revivification of languishing traditional textile industries, not only in Indonesia, but Laos, Cambodia, India, and Japan as well.

During this period I was still doing work through Leiden University, and while they were a great source of early support and funding, their interest was more on the research and academic aspects of Ikat culture. While doing my field work in various countries I saw ways in which artisans could preserve their traditional way of life while remaining economically viable into the future. I recognized how Ikat’s history in the past and within colonialization, and how countries can learn from one another, connected people within their communities as well as with the artisans in these other countries. They represented a more cooperative cultural future through their shared connection in the past!

So while I greatly appreciated the good I was able to accomplish with the University of Leiden’s support, it was just not enough to satiate me. So the Center for Culture and Development – The Netherlands was born, meant to preserve tangible and intangible cultural heritage, maintained as a viable part of the economy. Culture can only be preserved if culture is maintained as an autonomous part of society. Not only this, but I hoped to further empower the people crafting these cultural objects, giving them the legal and economic platform they need to stand on the world stage.

Haha! There’s the human rights lawyer in me speaking up again.”

Moving into the Future

We asked Yetty what her hopes for the CCD-NL’s future were, “Well obviously, there’s still a lot to do regarding Ikats. Things like toxic chemicals, introducing natural dyes, and more research on making production economically feasible are all necessary. These initiative in addition to the continued documentation, cataloguing, and research into the crafts are all still ongoing into the foreseeable future. Not to mention getting the artisans the proper recognition they deserve via copyrights and lobbying for Ikats to be officially recognized as world heritage. Though, from this strong base I am interested into other avenues of both cultural preservation and societal development, but these other initiatives are all still in the early planning stage.

Already, there is so much more to do, but I see it as just another challenge. It all began as a five year project, but now I know that five years was never enough. We’re trying to create a new global culture where countries can cooperate to preserve their unique, yet interconnected, cultural heritage, and that’s something that will take time.”

Get Involved!

If you’re like Yetty, and are finding yourself interested in Ikats, the development and preservation of traditional Ikat crafts, or just feel compelled by our message, feel free to check out our Website , Instagram  and Youtube,  and help us continue to do the great work we love.

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