Ancient Textile Traditions


In Bali, there are beautiful textiles everywhere. Some are the same all over the local market, and some stand out more. It's details such as the quality of fabric, the pattern and the craftsmanship that makes some products more special to look at and touch. For me, much of the joy in buying a beautiful piece of fabric from a foreign country, is the story attached to it. When you resonate with the artist and have an understanding of his or her story, you will naturally care more for your garment, and worship the memories it brings, when you look at it. I had been told about a small, local artisan village, called Tengenan. It's a very old community of weavers, who live in ancient houses and practice a special kind of batik weaving. Double Ikat is the name of the technique, and Tengenan is apparently the only place in Bali, where you can find these creations, originally made. We arrived at the village in the early afternoon sun, after a 1,5-hour drive, north of Ubud. The surroundings and atmosphere made us feel like we entered another century. Dust swirled in the air, sunbeams peeked through the ceiling, and everything breathed slowness and deep concentration.


The people who inhabit the village, are generations of weavers and artists, passing on their knowledge to the younger members of the family. It's so important that art forms are kept alive and get passed on, so these special techniques still exist around the world. Our perception of value when we have a piece of fabric or clothing in our hands is damaged. The fast fashion industry offers constantly changing trends and new styles in stores every day, at very lov prices. We often forget to look behind the physical aspects of a product, and how cheap we can purchase it. But behind the product is a very long process that involve many people. The huge export of crafts and products from around the world, result in commercialization of art forms, and we loose the important aspects that goes behind the products. Who is the artist? Who spun the yarn, created the pattern and dipped it in the dye, to achieve such a beautiful color?

My visit to Tengenan, reminded me once again how important it is that we question the origin of the products we consider buying, and that we remember how much work goes into making it. If a product is cheap, someone else paid for it. I brought home two beautiful pieces of batik cloth. They are old and dusty and one of them has a few holes. But they are filled with history and made by a kind old lady, in her home in Tengenan. To me, the holes and small imperfections the textile has from lying around for a very long time, makes it more interesting to look at. The beauty of decay, and the melancholic feeling that nothing is everlasting, has an aesthetically and emotionally pleasing effect.