Photo: Work in progress.

Tanglad Weaving Village

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In the hills on the eastern side of Nusa Penida, Tanglad village is known for traditional weaving, but unless you venture there with a knowledgeable guide, you’d be hard pressed to realise this as there is little indication that it is anything other than an ordinary village.

That said, if you know a little about weaving processes, it’s easy enough to find home workshops, and though most are very welcoming to tourists, few speak English. Ask around for “tenun” and someone will point you in the right direction. The villagers in Tanglad use a mix of natural and traditional dyes, some preferring one over the other and produce two main styles “cepuk”, an ikat-style textile believed to have magical protective and medicinal properties, and the more contemporary design, the diamond patterned “rangrang” which means “with holes” due to the perforations produced by the technique at the tips of the diamond motive. Weavers use both large floor looms and backstrap looms and you can see both operating here.

Clack clack clack clack. Photo taken in or around Tanglad Weaving Village, Nusa Penida, Indonesia by Sally Arnold.

Clack clack clack clack. Photo: Sally Arnold

The first weavers we visited were just a small family business, and the friendly lady explained that she was part of a 30-family weaving cooperative in the village. She preferred chemical dyes due to their permanence and wider choice of colours and as with everyone we spoke with, bought the ready spun cotton or silk from the local market or from Bail and dyed the thread themselves. In the past cotton was grown on Nusa Penida, but these days most is produced in Java and the silk is apparently imported from India.

Traditional dyes use indigo and morinda, both cultivated on the island, which produce shads of blue, yellow and reds through to black. Cepuk weavings from Nusa Penida are traditionally believed to hold the most power of all sacred cloth in Bali.

A very rare breed. Photo taken in or around Tanglad Weaving Village, Nusa Penida, Indonesia by Sally Arnold.

A very rare breed. Photo: Sally Arnold

In the past weavers were restricted to only weaving on auspicious days with certain ceremonies conducted prior to production and the women were not permitted to work on the cloth when they were menstruating and should be in a trance state when they were weaving. Every motive, line and colour has significance, and although they can point out the symbolic meanings—triangles that represented roosters spurs, and stripes that symbolised bird’s eyes among others—no one was able to describe the stories or reasons for the motives to us. Sarongs can take anywhere between three days and two weeks to produce depending on the design, size and weather—evidently the threads “stick” in the wet season making it more difficult to weave.

The second place we visited was a little better marked—look for a sign that reads “Cepuk Home Industry—Traditional fabric of Tanglad” located near the Bale Banjar Subak Abian Mertasari. Here you can meet Wayan Sedemen, the first male weaver we have met in all of Indonesia. He speaks a little English and offered a range of cepuk and rangrang textiles in both synthetic and natural dyes for sale.

A laborious process. Photo taken in or around Tanglad Weaving Village, Nusa Penida, Indonesia by Sally Arnold.

A laborious process. Photo: Sally Arnold

The easiest place to see the traditional craft is at the shopfront gallery of Ngurah Hendrawan (who also speaks English) on the turnoff to Suwehan Beach. The gallery sells only textiles dyed with natural colours and proudly displays photos of local politician’s wives who have purchased fabrics here. If you are interested in snapping up a unique souvenir, weaving prices range from around 300,000 up to about 1,200,000 rupiah. Weavers mentioned they are supported by and sell their products though the Bebali Foundation who operate the Ubud based Threads of Life Gallery.

Although most visitors are more interested in the beaches and natural sights of Nusa Penida, if you have an interest in traditional cultures or crafts, Tanglad makes a worthwhile stop as you travel around the island. Mix up some culture with the beach and visit Pura Goa Giri Putri, Atuh Beach and Suwehan Beach along with Tanglad Village on a day trip.

Finished product ready for sale. Photo taken in or around Tanglad Weaving Village, Nusa Penida, Indonesia by Sally Arnold.

Finished product ready for sale. Photo: Sally Arnold

If you would prefer to visit Tanglad with a guide, the locals there mentioned that Namaste Bungalows often brings tourists to the village and several other tours offer a stop here too, but not all “guides” on the island speak English nor know much about the weaving and merely transport people from A to B, so check what is being provided for your tour first if you’d like to learn a little about this fascinating tradition.

Cepuk Home Industry: Wayan Sedemen T: (0853) 3900 0575
Ngurah Gallery: Ngurah Hendrawan T: (0821) 4745 8780;(0823) 5952 6577;

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