Balinese Textiles

Throught the world, the wealth of traditional Balinese textiles is well known. Many of the best example can be found in museums. While they are admired by many for their beauty and sheer artstry, textiles play an important part in the daily life and ceremonies of Balinese. And interesting fact about traditional Balinese clothing is that most consit of a simple rectangular piece of cloth which is then elegantly wrapped around the body.

tengenan batik collection - the bali channel

Textiles in Bali, though, not only serve as protection against the cold and sun but are also powerful symbols indicating the status and well being of the wearer. The woman of royal families always vied with each other to make the most beautiful creations using sumptous materials including silk imported from China and gold and silver thread. Further many textiles were believed to be imbued with magical powers which could protect the wearer against malevolent influences. They could also serve as intermediaries with the supernatural world in religious rituals such as cremations, where hundreds of costly meters of cloth would be turned into ashes to accompany the soul of the dead to the other world.

The guardians of the secret knowledge of textiles, including the ingedients of certain dyes and a rich compendium of scred motifs have always been the woman of Bali. Weaving is teir domain ,just as rice farming belongs to men. One of the most important duties of a mother would be to hand down her knowledge to her daughter to continue the heritage. Many of the best were fanciful creations with wayang puppets or other mythology figures taken from Balinese legends ad myths.

Singaraja in north Bali was always renowned as home of the best these. While most wrap Ikat is silk, one finds in Bali a scred cloth usually said to be woven on the Island Nusa penida that is a wrap cotton Ikat. This is the cepuk considred to have poweful protective properties. Certainly the most famous sort of Ikat in Bali is the mysterious Geringsing woven only in the Bali Age of Tengenan village East Bali. Here the Ikat pattern is created in both the wrap and weft frightfully difficult and requires both expertise and patience to align the two patterns. The Geringsing is cinsidered scred throught Bali and has always been very rare and expensive. Many stories have been told about it, such as human blod is necessary to obtain it deep rich color but many of these are apocryphal.

motif bali songket textiles - the bali channel

Songket is a technique by which gold or silver threads are woven into the cloth or Ikat. It usually comes in two metre lengths for use as sarongs or long scarves by Balinese woman in ceremonies. Antique cloths can also be found, but are rarely in good condition. New Songket of various quality are still woven in Klungkung.

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