Ikat Weaving – empowering women through sustainable livelihoods
Ikat is the term used to collectively describe the beautiful woven textiles found throughout Eastern Indonesia and ubiquitous in the communities with which NTA works. Ikat traditions are an integral part of community life in areas such as Maumere, Flores, where NTA supports a number of ikat weaving groups.
Ikat weaving performs a number of functions in these communities. As a material expression of East Indonesian culture, ikat weaving is a way of maintaining tradition, identity and history. A girl’s passage into womanhood was traditionally dictated by her proficiency as a weaver, and the cloths continue to have important roles in ceremony and ritual. The production and sale of the cloths also represents a crucial source of income for women and families during East Nusa Tenggara’s lengthy dry season, when farming activities must cease. However, the competitive nature of local markets and other changes associated with globalisation has driven prices and quality, making it an increasingly difficult and unprofitable enterprise for weavers. This has contributed to losses of weaving expertise and interest in continuing these traditions amongst younger generations of women in many areas.
NTA supports a number of women’s weaving groups in East Indonesian communities who have come together in an attempt to improve their financial circumstances while also preserving the important traditions passed down to them by their forebears. NTA provides skill and business training, raw materials, and other forms of support to help these groups produce and market their high-quality textiles in more environmentally and economically sustainable fashion. This includes supporting a gradual return to natural dyeing techniques, which are being rapidly usurped by synthetic dyes, and supporting groups to collectively sell their textiles at fairer prices.
By supporting NTA’s ikat initiatives, you can help to preserve tradition, support women’s economic empowerment, and improve lives in East Indonesian communities.