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Home » Maumere, City to embark on your Flores adventure » The Intricate Ikat Hand-woven masterpieces of Flores

The Intricate Ikat Hand-woven masterpieces of Flores

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  1. Frans Seda Airport

    Frans Seda Airport
  2. Weaving Fabric

    Typical weaving fabric from East Nusa Tenggara
  3. Koka Beach

    Swimming at Koka beach
  4. Kelimutu Lake

    Kelimutu Lake

 

Overview

While an encounter with the legendary reptile on Komodo Island or witnessing the sheer beauty of the three colored Lake Kelimutu are already unforgettable experiences by themselves,  the island of Flores still has a lot more  to offer beyond its rugged terrains. One of these is  its wonderfully Ikat Hand-Woven fabrics, crafted by the finest hands on Flores.

This traditional work of art can be found in many towns across the island such as in Maumere, Sikka, Ende, Manggarai, Ngada, Nage Keo, Lio, and Lembata. Each area has its own distinctive motifs and patterns as well as color preferences. The difference in the designs and colors represent the variety that exists among the sub-ethnics, customs, and beliefs of the people of Flores.

In Sikka, the Ikat Hand-Woven fabrics are characterized by dark colors, usually in black, brown, and dark blue. Their distinct motifs here are called Okukirei which illustrate the life of their ancestors who were skillful seafarers. Stylized figures of fishermen, fishing boats, shrimps, or crabs highlight this motif. There is also a special cloth that is highlighted with rose patterns known as Mawarni , that may be used only by the royal ladies of the Sikka kingdom.

The Ikat cloths of Ende, on the other hand, mainly use brown and red colors, depicting various European style motifs. Ende’s strategic location on the southern coast of Flores  has made the town into a melting pot for traders from all over the world, who  at the time mainly  came from Europe. A distinct style of Ende Ikat weaving is that they use only one single motif in the center of the fabric.

A rare and special motif called omembulu telu or the “three golds” can be found in the village of Lio. According to local belief, the one who owns this special fabric will be blessed with great wealth.

Lio is known to stand out in its Ikat weaving because of their delicate and sophisticated patterns. The motifs of Lio are greatly influenced by the Patola from India which was brought by Portugese merchants in the 16th century. The motifs resemble the jelamprang patterns in Batik which are decorated with designs of branches and leaves. Other distinct motifs from Lio are geometric shapes, human figures, lizards or Komodos and others. These motifs are usually small in shape and are arranged in red or blue across dark colored columns.

As opposed to other regions on Flores, the Ikat cloths in the districts of Manggarai and Ngada tend to use bright colors such as green, red, white, yellow (or gold). The use of bright colors here is said to have been influence by the hand weaving arts of the neighboring islands of Sumba and Sumbawa.

Creating these masterpieces of eastern Indonesia takes months of patience, persistence, and a whole lot of experience and skills. There are at least 20 steps involved in the process to create one single piece of cloth, which begins with the separation of the cotton from the seeds, turning it into threads, coloring the threads, binding the motifs, and only lastly comes the actual weaving process. All of these processes use traditional techniques without the use of any modern machinery.

In coloring the threads, weavers of Flores still use natural substances from various vegetations such as leaves and roots of the mengkudu trees (for red), nira palm leaves (for blue), saffron (for yellow), and many others.  There are at least 11 shades of color that can be produced from these natural substances.

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The Intricate Ikat Hand-woven masterpieces of Flores

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