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Home » WAKATOBI National Marine Park: the”Underwater Nirwana” » Buton Woven Fabrics: their Delicate Colors and Motifs

Buton Woven Fabrics: their Delicate Colors and Motifs

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Overview

One of the most distinct traditional works of art on the island of Buton, in the province of Southeast Sulawesi, is the Buton hand-woven cloths. The tradition of weaving has been known since hundred years in this multi-ethnic area and has been handed down to the younger generations until today. The women of Buton, both from nobility as well as the common people, may start to learn to weave since the age of 10 years. Therefore, it is not only the common people who are skilled at weaving, but also the wife and daughters of the Sultan of Buton.

 
For the Buton people, weaving is a form of a manifestation to understand the natural environment. This can be seen from the weaving patterns and motifs which usually depict natural objects. There are many kinds of delicate patterns and motifs as well as colors of the woven fabrics.

 
In addition, Buton’s woven fabrics are also symbols of identity and social status. Simple motifs and patterns called Kasopa, for example, are typical patterns for unmarried girls of commoners. Meanwhile, a more complicated and sophisticated pattern embroidered with dominant colors of silver is made for the noblity and is called Kumbaea. The marital status of the women can also be known from the fabrics they wear.

 
Initially, Buton weaving is a special dress for cultural events as well as religious ceremonies and rituals. The absence of this fabric at such special events may cause the event to be considered less sacred.  With time, however, this typical fabric is also made in various forms and uses, for example for bags, hats, scarves, gloves, pillowcases, tablecloths, wall hangings and other kinds of crafts.

 
Buton woven fabrics and crafts can be found easily in the town of Bau-Bau and in many other towns and islands in Southeast Sulawesi, such as on Muna, Kabaena, Rumbia and Poleang. Here, you can witness the delicate Buton fabrics crafted by the finest hands of weavers who will also be pleased to explain to you the complex process of weaving. This fabric is done with perseverance, persistence, and a whole lot of experience and skill.

The large island of Buton, next to the islands of Muna and Bombana are located north of the Wakatobi archipelago, originally better known as the Tukangbesi islands of Southeast Sulawesi.

 

Photo Courtesy by Elsa Saroku

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Buton Woven Fabrics: their Delicate Colors and Motifs

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