Tag Archives: kain bebali

Dazzling Fabrics From Bali’s Far East.

27 Dec

East Seraya Weavers cooperative

Indonesia is a primary destination for lovers of traditional textile arts.   The

Warm natural colors

country’s batik is justly famous worldwide, and its ikat weaving from the Eastern islands has been gaining favor.  This attention has spurred the revival of many local weaving traditions, now producing for  now are  a broader market.

The sizable  part Bali that lies  east of the tourist town of Candi Dasa, may not exist as far as the majority of visitors to the island are but has long been known to a smaller number of knowledgeable visitors for its diving spots, stunning mountain and marine scenery, along with low cost beach lodging, but as the area develops, other attractions arise.  Better transport and communications, and the dedication of some pioneering entrepreneurs have revived a local weaving tradition, providing employment for local women, and traditional product that with its natural materials, simple but striking motifs, and superb workmanship

When we met Sri of Kelompok Karya Sari Warna Alam/Natural dyers and Weavers Cooperative of Seraya Traditional Textil

Weavers work in an airy open space.

Organic indigo dye

Artisans at the recent ASEAN exhibition in Nusa Dua, where she was displaying kain bebali from Seraya, Kareng Asem Regency, East Bali,  the “textile lady”( kind of like a cat lady-you can’t have too many) half of this partnership immediately bought a small piece and scheduled a trip  to the workshop in  Seraya Timur on Bali’s scenic  eastern coast.

Kain Bebali is cloth with holds an important place in Balinese religious ritual.  As reported by Leslie Pullen in a short monograph, these cloths were one almost universally produced in Bali, but with the island turning to tourism and fuller  integration with the national and world economies, the tradition had nearly died out until NGOs such as Threads of Life, Cita Tenun  and and local entrepreneurs revived it by targeting a niche market of affluent Indonesians and knowledgeable foreigners,  in the process providing sustainable employment and production.

We drove through Candi Dasa, and not long before Jayapura turned on to the road to Jasi beach, which goes past the Kareng Asem water palace and joins the coast road that goes to Seraya and on to the the diving resorts of Bunutan, Amed and Tulamben.  The – no exaggeration or cliche here -a quite spectacular road abuts the slopes of Mt. Seraya and overlooks vistas of coconut plantations and the Lombok Strait with the island of Nusa Penida in the distance .

When we arrived, Sri was waiting to show us through the process, from raw material production to dyeing, weaving and


finishing.  After first saying hello to the  women weavers who work in front, in an airy space with view out to sea, we climbed up to the the spinning and finishing area, the entire process separated from beginning to end by only a few meters.

What looked to us to be quite unremarkable plants growing untended were in fact some of the sources of the natural dyes the weavers sue exclusively,  indigo,  gold from pomegranates, brown and purple from mengkudu(indian mulberry) when mixed with lime, and a rich chocolate from pinang(betel nut).  The cooperative experiments constantly looking for new shades from natural sources.

Cotton grown both by the cooperative and local suppliers without pesticides or fertilizers is first ginned then spun into yarn thread.

Threads are dyed, the color fixed with vinegar, and then taken to the weavers, who produce traditional patterns.  Wastes  are organic and used for fertilizer.

After our tour, the textile lady went to the showroom, while I chatted with the weavers.  A few grand kid pics in my camera, shown around, produced big smiles and a relaxed shooting session.  My textile collector was somewhat miffed that a Jakarta customer had cleaned out most of the stock, but she

Locally grown cotton

Spinning yarn

managed to find something much to her liking.


We returned to Sanur thatd ay, but a full overnight or longer trip would include a stop and perhaps a bite at the guest house on Jasi beach, with a  stop in Seraya and then onto Bunutan or Amed for the night, returning by the inland road to Amlapura.  There are a couple of signs up for lodging in the Seraya area, but locals told us none were operating yet as of early December.  Best to have at least half a tank before leaving the Amlapura road.  During the rainy season their are sometimes washouts, and at any time,  road works can make passage difficult.

Exploring East Bali requires only a bit of adventurous spirit, and the rewards are great.  A bit of textile shopping will provide a lovely souvenir, and help the local women lead more secure lives as the earn their own money.

Prices start at Rp500,00 for a cotton scarf, Rp700,00 for silk, with full length kain gongforRp1-3,000,000.