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Preserving Bali Textile Traditions

Traditional Weavers Need Capital to Expand Production.

(3/6/2009) The Indonesian Traditional Textile Team (CTI), a foundation supporting the preservation and promotion of the country's hand weaving traditions, have identified Bali's ikat textiles as having the potential to be developed as a financially viable handicraft product. The CTI shared its views on Balinese hand-woven textiles with Kompas after undertaking a survey of traditional textile clusters in the Karangasem region of Bali on February 28, 2009. During the CTI survey trip a number of examples of Balinese "ikat" were purchased to be displayed to a national audience later in Jakarta.

According the Chairman of the CTI team in Bali, Sjamsidar Isa: "There is so much to learn from these (Balinese) 'ikats.' The problem is that the actual producers earn so little in comparison with the textile dealers, so much so that many people with great skill in this handicraft are now working in other fields."

When the survey team visited the Pelangi Traditional Weaving Center in Budamanis in the village of Sideman, Karangasem, several of the traditional looms sat idle. The team was told that a number of weavers were off for the day, attending to religious obligations.

Kartika Dewi, the owner of a local traditional textile shop, confirmed to the press that the weavers were busy at prayers: "But that's not the real problem. We lack the capital to develop our enterprises."

During the course of the CTI Survey they were accompanied by a leading Indonesian designer Priyo Octaviano, an expert in threads Ratna Panggabean, interior designer Koes Surono and a representative from Garuda Indonesia Ridwan Edi. The National Airline in cooperation with CTI are heading a program to help Bali's traditional weavers.

Isa said: "The ability of our weavers in this area is very good. Capital is the most important obstacle and we are looking at ways to help them increase the scale of their operations."

There still exist a wide variety of traditional Balinese weavings readily available in Karangasem. The cost of hand-woven textiles can range from Rp. 150,000 (US$13.40) to Rp. 3 million (US$267).

Dewi told Kompas that demand often exceeds the production capability of local weavers: "We often are unable to meet export requests to Japan. Export requests to Japan can be served from the local market and local weavers do not wish to be bound by contract obligations. We are concerned that we will not be able to fulfill the contract obligations."