Jakarta. To commemorate Independence Day, Dian Sastro Foundation, or YDS, collaborates with the Plaza Indonesia shopping mall in Jakarta to present an exhibition on the traditional art of hand weaving in East Sumba.
The exhibition is titled "Lukamba Nduma Luri" ("Cloths That Provide a Living"), after a group of weavers from East Sumba, East Nusa Tenggara, who gave this name to their cooperative.
"This event is a token of our appreciation of the beautiful fabrics that provide livelihood to many people," one of the foundation's founders, Wisnu Darmawan, said during a press conference in Jakarta on Tuesday (08/08).
YDS was founded in Jakarta, in 2009, by actress Dian Sastro, her mother and Wisnu, who is also Dian's manager. The foundation supports children's education, women's empowerment and the promotion of Indonesia's traditional cultures.
It was Dian's good friend, textile designer Chitra Subyakto, who earlier this year brought her to East Sumba.
"I was immediately smitten. Its undulating hills and clear blue skies were simply majestic. The people are also very friendly and creative," Dian said.
During her brief visit, local women introduced Dian to their traditional tie-dye fabrics.
"For me, [Sumba's traditional fabrics] are exceptionally beautiful," the 35-year-old actress said. "Their colors from natural dyes are deep and solid. Their tribal patterns are bold. The fabrics are also thick, but soft, so that they can comfortably be worn also in cold-climate countries."
Labor of Love and Nature
"Sumba never had a written tradition. But a lot of our history and customs — our relationship with one another and our relationship with God — are 'written' on our fabrics," historian Ruben Pulung Tana said during the press conference.
Most of Sumba's residents are farmers. They weave in their spare time.
"It usually takes six months to complete one piece of cloth," Lukamba Nduma Luri group Fidelis Tasman Amat said. "You can never hurry, as each step involves the work of nature."
The work of the weavers starts with spinning cotton into threads, which are then woven on backstrap looms into a piece of cloth.
To create colorful motifs, the weavers tie some of the threads with gewang (Corypha utan) leaves before dipping them into floral-dye concoctions.
"It takes one month just to sundry the fabrics. There's nothing the weavers can do. We just have to let [the fabrics] sleep as if they were our own children," Fidelis said.
Twelve of these beautiful fabrics are presented at the exhibition in Plaza Indonesia, along with 22 photographs of the weavers by Hakim Satriyo.
"I truly enjoyed taking pictures in East Sumba. The place is stunning. And the people were so friendly and helpful during the whole process. I came back with hundreds of amazing pictures that it was difficult to choose [them for the exhibition]," Hakim said.
The photographs are displayed on 80 centimeters by 65 centimeters panels on the ground floor of Plaza Indonesia.
The exhibition also features a video by photographer and videographer Davy Linggar.
Revisiting Forgotten Land
On the opening day of the exhibition, YDS also auctioned some of the fabrics.
With the proceeds from the auction, the foundation plans to renovate some of the old houses in East Sumba and build clean water facilities in collaboration with local NGO Waterhouse Project.
"I'm very grateful for this event," said Tamu Umbu Pingi Ai, one of the community leaders in East Sumba. "Sumba is the southernmost island of Indonesia, called by some 'the forgotten island.' But with this exhibition, many will get to know about our island and the uniqueness of our land and tradition."
The exhibition will be open until Aug. 31.