REVITALIZING INDIGO TRADITIONS IN EASTERN INDONESIA – TAASA Review March 2019

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This article was originally found in the March 2019 edition of TAASA Review (Volume 28, Issue 1, Page 12).

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William Ingram K atarina Paba is one of the few weavers in Bajawa, central Flores, able to make the ceremonial indigo-dyed and beaded Lawo Butu textiles used by a female clan elder in inauguration ceremonies for a clan house or ancestral shrine.

In the late 1990s, when my wife Jean Howe and I were establishing Threads of Life as a social enterprise to support traditional weavers, Katarina was one of the first women we worked with, and every time she completed a Lawo Butu we would have to join her for a ceremony in the windowless inner room of her clan house while she asked the ancestral spirits for permission to sell the cloth. Dye pots in Malaka in Timor.

Photo courtesy Threads of Life Behind her house is the shed with her indigo pots, and behind the shed are fields full of the Indigofera tinctoria she grows...