Destinations in Indonesia
“Lipaq Saqbe”: Mandar’s Exquisite Hand-Woven Silk Sarongs
Although this region is as yet not as well known as others in Indonesia, the young province of West Sulawesi is a land blessed with many pristine wonders. Its shoreline is decorated with beautiful beaches, while the highlands are adorned with magnificent waterfalls and stunning sceneries. Residing in this magnificent setting are the Mandar, an ethnic group that possesses equally fascinating cultural virtues. Their mastery of the sea and craftsmanship in working wood have created the exceptional speedy Sandeq Boats, while their delicate hands and detailed precision produce one of Mandar’s masterpieces: the Lipaq Saqbe or Woven Silk Sarongs.
The Mandar Woven Silk Sarongs have electric colors of fuchsia, red and yellow with bold geometric designs. Encased within their simple patterns are strands of silver and gold threads that give the sarongs their exquisite gleam. Known as one of the most refined silk products in the archipelago, the Mandar Silk Sarong is not a fabric for daily use.Traditionally, this exceptional textile is only worn on special occasions such as at weddings, religious ceremonies and sometimes for Friday prayers in mosques.
Generally, the Lipaq Saqbe has two distinct motifs: Sure’ and Bunga (literally meaniing flowers). Sure’ is the basic simple geometrical motifs that are classic Lipaq Saqbe motifs. The Bunga motifs, on the other hand , are extensions of the sure' motifs with addition of various decorations. Traditionally, the motifs are designed depending on the rank of the one wearing it, be they a person of royal blood, a government official, top level merchants, or commoners. Among the traditional motifs are: Salaka, Padzadza(Parara), Taqbu, Aroppoq, Pandeng, Pangulu, Benggol, and many others.
Until today the Lipaq Saqbe is still produced using traditional methods and instruments. For this reason, to create a piece of Lipaq Saqbe can take up to 2 to 3 weeks, and even months depending on the designs. The process starts from the threading of the silk from the silk cocoons through the Ma’unnus (pulling the threads from the cocoon) and Ma’ttiqor (spinning the threads). Subsequently, the silk threads will undergo the coloring process. Some of the Lipaq Saqbe producers still use natural substances for coloring such as the Nila leaf (indigo), the Kalanjo (coconut sprout), Bakko (Mangrove bark), and others. The coloring process is known as Macingga. However, nowadays there are already plenty of ready silk threads sold in the market.
The next process, called Manggalerong, is where the colored threads are placed around a long object (usually bamboo) and then spun to create rolls of colored silk threads. Each roll (galenrong) carries one color. The rolls of silk threads are then placed on the instrument known as Pamalingan, ready for weaving.
After further preparing the threads in the process called Sumau’ and Mappatama, the weaving process or Manette can begin. Weaving of the Lipaq Saqbe uses the traditional Mandar weaving instrument known as Parewa Tandayang. The Parewa Tandayang has been used and passed down the generations by the ancestors of the Mandar. Aside from the skills of weaving the silk sarongs, the making of the weaving tools or the parewa tandayang itself is also a legacy passed down the generations through the ages.