Toraja has a rich and ancient heritage in traditional textiles. Some very fine ikat textile is produced in Toraja. Ikat and weavingikat weaving center at todi villages can generally be found around the north and west of Toraja. Ikat and weaving is important for the Toraja people. In the past, people in Toraja sold their livestock, buffalo, or their agriculture pickings just for getting the ikat textiles. Ikat at that moment represent one of the highest valuable of goods that symbolize the prosperity and the glory.
Torajans learn the way of weaving from their ancestor by generations but not all of them earn skillful to weave the best and high quality of Tradisional woven such as ikat (sekomandi) , tali tobatu , paruki’, tannun kamandang , ect. People in Toraja who can weave are the peoples who live along North and West of Toraja.
In South Celebes (Sulawesi) there are two center areas of ikat weaving textiles: KALUMPANG and RONGKONG (west), both situated in the more isolated areas of Torajaland. The closest to Toraja is Kalumpang, in West Toraja, north of Mamasa, it take 3 to 5 days walking to reach this villages.
The other weaving textile area that produced Paruki' woven is SA'DAN (north) 25 minutes driving from Rantepao town. Each area has its own distinct colors and patterns. Buffalo and other patterns from Toraja wood carvings often become the primary motif of Toraja ikat. Nowadays only a few Toraja ikat exist, Toraja ikat has been dramatically decreased in quantity at the moment.
In Toraja vilages specially in Kalumpang, Ronkong and Sa'dan village we can still find women sitting in the shade weaving with a simple back-strap loom in front of their house. Several years ago it was quite common to find women weaving in their house now the amount of them are dramatically decreased.
Some women who make the ikat still use the traditional method of spinning and dyeing cotton with leaves, roots, and bark. This traditional weaving method consumes an immense amount of time and labor. To get the right color the cloth has to be subjected to repeated dippings in natural dyes. It can take months before they are ready to be used. Because this is very time consuming others prefer to use machine spun thread and synthetic dyes. For finished one Toraja ikat need months.
In Toraja, traditional woven is mainly used as clothing, wall decoration or serves in the system of gift exchanges. In some cases they are used as gift to other village. The Toraja woven which come in various qualities and thickness, were used in funeral rites or other traditional ritual.
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