Weaving the Future of Balinese Women

A reviving of a traditional craft sustains both the artists and the environment.

By Sahiri

Some would say the art of weaving is dying. The loom abandoned in favour of modern equipment, or simply left alto- gether by disinterested younger generation. But one place in Bali is still trying to perpetuate the traditional art.

We want to keep the culture, and one of the ways we do that is by empowering local women, especially the older women who may have missed the hospitality boat,” says Mike O’Leary, the founder of R.O.L.E Foundation, who for the past seven years has made the “Weaving Future” program part of his Nusa Dua-based Bali Environmental Centre. One woman, Ibu Made Osiani, is a mother of two and she worked as a farmer (growing corn, ground peanuts, seaweed) and herding cows before her family land was converted into commercial properties and the beach taken over by sea-view starred hotels. Luckily, now she has another trade to fall back on. “We were sent to Gianyar to learn traditional Balinese weaving,” says Ibu Made, a member of Bukit Women’s Weavers Association. “Then we also went to Nusa Penida to study that region’s motif called cepuk rangrang.”

Moreover, R.O.L.E’s collection of scarfs has a distinct, earth-friendly edge: they use organic cotton and natural colouring—the ingredients picked straight from the Centre’s herbal garden. They utilize a variety of plants for their homemade dye: indigofera (blue), sappan wood (red), mahonia (brown), almond leaves and turmeric (cream), mango leaves (green), and many more.

The challenge with using natural colouring is that we can’t really control the intensity of the colour—it can be lighter or another time it could be darker,” Ibu Made says. “But it’s natural, so we don’t use preservatives or any other chemical products. And that is how you weave a sustainable future.■

Bali Pocket Magazine