Sunday, August 8, 2010

Tenganan - home of double ikat

Yesterday we visited the pinnacle of difficult weaving, Tenganan. It's a village in East Bali that is Bali Aga or old Balinese. It has an incredibly complex social organisation. And a population of just 300 or so. All marriage has to occur within this group.

Patterning seems to be very important with the community and there are lots of repeated patterns in the weaving as well as the houses. It's one of only three communities in the world that practice double ikat. The others are in Japan and India.

Textiles look unlike anything else we have seen. Double ikat means that both the warp and the weft carry a dyed pattern. The pattern is put on to the thread through the usual tying and dyeing methods we have seen elsewhere but on both threads.

Preparing the weft threads before dyeing.

Weaver concentrating on lining all the threads up both ways.

I can only imagine how hard it is to register the pattern so they BOTH line up. Not surprisingly, this is one of the indicators of quality. Unlike other weaving, the weaver doesn't tamp down hard on the weft threads. Tightness here is not a virtue because in order to get the pattern to work properly, the weft and warp threads must for an even, square grid. Hence, it's a fairly open weave. This is one of the reasons I didn't get one because it seemed fragile. I don't think it is, but it had that appearance.

Also, I thought it was over-priced. As a rare commodity and with a well established tourist market, there appeared to be more emphasis on quantity rather than quality. (Says me, who couldn't weave one to save my life.)

The best example we say and a very highly priced one. The white borders are the selvedges that keep the magic in. These textiles all have traditional ceremonial uses.

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