Event — Workshop

Ikat Weaving (Tenun Ikat) as Heritage for Sustainable Development in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), Indonesia

This workshop explores key issues with regard to ikat weaving for sustainable development in East Nusa Tenggara

The workshop is established as co-partnership of International Institute of Asian Studies (IIAS), Indonesian Heritage Trust (BPPI) and Rote Ndao Regency, East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia.

Read the full report by Aarti Kawlra.
Read the final report by Yetti Haning.

The purpose of this workshop is to explore key issues with regard to ikat weaving for sustainable development in East Nusa Tenggara. Discussions will focus on the demand of the tourism economy, modernization and globalization on existing textile traditions (tenun ikat), and in particular on the question how ikat weaving can be continued as a source of livelihood and a tool for the empowerment of the community, while preserving long-established cultural traditions.

The ikat tradition in NTT constitutes one of the most outstanding examples of cultural heritage in Indonesia and other parts of Southeast Asia. By contrast with other forms of cultural and artistic expression, ikat weaving remains a major living expression of East Nusa Tenggara’s contemporary culture and identity. The people of the islands in NTT (Flores, Sumba, Timor, Alor, Rote, Sabu, etc) are still reliant on this craft, which is rich of high social and symbolic meaning associated with local religious beliefs and practices.  The intense challenge faced by tenun ikat today is less about the risk of seeing ikat weaving disappearing than the alteration of the quality of ikat itself as a result of an unplanned dependency on the tourism economy as well as interdependence brought by globalization. This has caused inevitable changes in society, such as new modern lifestyles in which the weaving tradition disappears from daily life. In prevalent social processes, people’s essential relationship with cultural tradition is socially and culturally dependent. The perceived importance of ikat, expressed as cultural property in NTT, is a basic element of people’s identity. Ikat itself binds NTT people together. Thus, the cultural heritage of ikat weaving has to be protected. This would help to empower politically peripheral areas such as NTT and help to promote their cultural identity. This would eventually lead to their participation and larger contribution to nationwide socio-politics and economic activities.

This workshop aims to bring together scholars and experts on textiles, nationally and internationally, traditional master weavers, artisans, activists, local authority representatives, international development experts (in local governance; craft trade; environmental development; post conflict resolution, etc), in order to draft concrete strategies to support the traditional ikat weavers to produce their textiles in a way that improves their living standards, enhances the local economy and preserves their cultural values and identity.  Selected topics such as the revival of ikat weaving in Japan, India, Laos, and Cambodia are good examples for a development that provides economic benefits as well as promotes the preservation of cultural traditions and the empowerment of communities. How ikat is interpreted for modern use and how local people interact with ikat and their environment are issues that we hope to critically examine in this workshop. To be sure, in order to make this workshop more inclusive, an interdisciplinary approach and a diversity of perspectives (development, history, economy, anthropology, sociology, politics, conflict resolutions, etc) will be highlighted.

Supporting Organizations:
- Indonesian Community Crafts (Dekranas) at Provincial and Regencies in East Nusa Tenggara.
- ICCO South East Asia (Interkerkelijke Organisatie voor Ontwikkelingssamenwerking)