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Bali Women Cloth

12 March 2009

The Balinese elders in primeval time—on all occasions taught the women to weave by themselves to fulfill their own clothing needs. Even, since entering the adolescence period, they were taught to become professional cloth weavers and at the same time made this activity side job to add up the family’s income.

Therefore, it is not surprising if in every household always heard ‘the booming sound’ of bamboo blades or loud scrapes of weaving tools. The more so in the evening, its sound will be heard tremendously piercing. While, in the afternoon, some may be arranging, coloring or spinning thread with jantera (traditional spinning wheel).

This activity made home courtyard filled up with thread strings so it would then become an appealing view for children. They often played cheerfully among such strings that were fastened on certain places. At all times, girls did weaving activity until late night while they were chatting with young men that dropped by for a visit (usually desired to win their love). How an immensely entertaining work it was, moreover, if the girl had a boyfriend, so the activity of weaving in the evening would become, at the same time, a romantic moment to knit charming expectation and prepare the future.

For the elders, observed their girls weaving and accompanied by young men was concurrently made an opportunity to select their aspirant son-in-law. Therefore, the activity of weaving came to be a great moment in the life of the Balinese in the past as this could drive self-confidence and self- contained attitude in the household life. As a consequence, up to these days, the Balinese always prepare spinning wheels on the wedding ceremony and then moved by the bride that signifies their whole-heartedness to become a trustworthy wife and ‘knit’ their harmonious household, while the men hoe the land as symbol they become chief of household will unceasingly work hard to maintain the survival of their family.

The diminishing of weaving activity in Bali has come about since tourism turned to be developed in large scale. Many Balinese entered a field of tourism service industry so they leave traditional work. Including in the manner of fashion habit, they take that outside Bali as a model. Clothes of weaving products are merely employed for the sake of ritual needs or customary activities. Right now, the look of Balinese people conforms to overseas fashion trend of which materials are modernly manufactured in the factory.

The opening of the Ngurah Rai International Airport caused tourist visits to Bali to increase. Amongst them, some could capture a business opportunity in the clothing industry by establishing garment enterprises. Similarly, Balinese women turned to become sewers instead of weavers where they operated factory-made sewing machine. The most prominent brand name of sewing machine at that time was “Butterfly”. Indeed unclear, whether there is any influence of romantic activity of weaving to selection of “Butterfly” sewing machine, as butterfly for the Balinese connotes romantic animal, a sucker of nectar that all the times appears in the romantic song lyrics of bachelor and bachelorette that are falling in love.

This garment activity also suffers a rise and fall. In the mid of 1970s, the growth of garment industry in Bali flourished rapidly. In 1976, garment production of Bali reached thousands pieces of cloth per month, even in 1986 Bali exported 6, 25 millions garments that was worth USD 22 mi lion. At that time, garment industry dominated nearly half of total export commodities of Bali like handicrafts, coffee and vanilla. Bali Regional Office of Industrial Affairs estimated over 20,000 people is employed in garment industries. This industry did not produce traditional cloth like endek and batik or other traditional kinds. Clothing industry supplies the export demand by contracting Balinese women as sewer to make shirt design that uses cotton, rayon fabric or combination of both.

These clothes are produced in Java, then conveyed to Bali and finally cut and sewn in Bali. Centre of garment industry lies in Kuta, Sanur and Denpasar area, even not long ago it has entered to rural nooks and crannies. Just as the weaving activity, garment industry also employed women groups. Far those that have got married. They run garment business at home. Further, their products would be delivered to the factory and paid in accordance with the capacity completed. Right now, in the midst of the still sluggish condition of tourism industry, there are some garment factories that come to bankruptcy and many garment workers returned to in their original weaving work. Endek clothes is their products now regained special place in the heart of community, namely it is used to make the uniform of employees, students and civil servants and this progressively increases. A large amount of endeks cloth are also exported, even some fashion designers now make use of this cloth as its basic material. It is indicated by fashion show at starred hotels that highlights design made of endek cloth.

Are you interested to have clothing made of endek? Numerous fashion shops, supermarkets and souvenir shops sell them. Make sure that souvenir you purchase during vacation in Bali is endek that woven by the Balinese.

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