Textile enthusiasts rejoice: Threads of Life is a tiny gallery and shop that commissions heirloom-quality textiles and baskets from weavers across Indonesia.
Traditional textiles are not mere cloth, they embody identity, history and spirituality woven into the warp and weft, literally the threads of life. As the general market is becoming less discerning, sadly the quality of traditional textiles is decreasing. Producing handmade textiles is an expensive business, increasingly local buyers can no longer afford the high cost, and often only hire for important ceremonies such as weddings, reducing demand further.
Working closely with over 1,000 women in remote communities from 11 Indonesian islands, Threads of Life supports the continuation of local traditions and cultural identity whilst creating an environment in which villages can sustainably earn an income. Win win.
The pocket-sized split-level gallery in narrow Jalan Kajang, 300 metres from Ubud’s main road exhibits informative displays presenting the steps from spinning through to dying with natural ingredients and complex ancient weaving techniques. The superb weavings are of an exceptional standard, each displayed with the story of its origin and maker and the symbolic meaning of the motifs.
Most of the pieces take many months for an individual to complete with skills that have been passed through the generations. If you show interest, the helpful staff will pop on a video explaining the work of the centre including interviews with some of the craftspeople.
Most of the textiles on display are for sale but are justifiably pricey although smaller pieces are quite affordable — one can only feel good about spending money here. These women’s work is second to none and buyers include art collectors and museums.
Threads of Life run classes that demonstrate Indonesian textile traditions and hands on workshops as well as occasional textile tours. Check their website or sign up to their newsletter for details of the latest events. Even if you only have a passing interest, a visit to Threads of Life is worthwhile if only to offer an endorsement of their good work.
Threads of Life is free to enter, but you’ll want to take your wallet “just in case”. To view other superb traditional craftsmanship, visit Setia Darma House of Masks and Puppets.
By Sally Arnold.
Last updated on 29th January, 2017.
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