Saturday, 27 September 2014

Traditional Sasak Weaver's Craft Village

 
Traditional Sasak Weaving
 
On our way back to Kuta from Senggigi, Abdul decided we would take a different route. This consisted of driving through the warren of streets that comprises Mataram, the capital of Lombok. Abdul explained that Mataram had only grown up fairly recently, probably since 2007. As always in Lombok there are many motorbikes and scooters on the road. Most have at least two people - the driver and the pillion - but many have three or even four passengers. Children and babies are squashed in between rider and pillion or stand in front of the driver so as to lean on the handlebars. I saw one little fellow fast asleep. What was unusual was that he had on a crash helmet. The pillion passengers are often women and some of them sit side-saddle. Being predominantly Muslim, the women often wear a veil, similar to that which the Roman Catholic nuns wear, or used to wear. Their posture (both women and men) is uniformly excellent. Just in passing, I was entranced at how many men had small feet. Abdul easily fitted into my Reeboks; Roland’s thongs (flip-flops for non-Aussie readers) were miles too big!

Having negotiated Mataram, we were once again on the Praya – Senggigi bypass but not for long. Abdul turned off in one of the many small villages along the way and took us down the back roads to a craft village. In this case it was a weaving village; an eye-opener for both of us.

We were able to watch the Sasak women weavers at their looms. Each one sitting more-or-less in isolation on the concrete platform. Each woman weaves a pattern traditional to her own family. Our Guide, Angie, explained that girls start learning to weave at about 9 years old. By the time they are 13 they are usually quite proficient. A girl does not marry until she is an accomplished weaver. The reason for this is practical economics. The primary source of income in Lombok is agriculture - but, due to the aridity of this area, crops are not a dependable source of income; hence, the women's weaving brings in much needed cash. The community has set up a cooperative where the women sell their beautiful woven goods to the public (tourists). To set up, the cooperative loans a woman enough money to purchase the thread and whatever else may be needed. Angie told us that each length of fabric takes up to three months to prepare and weave so the initial loan is vital. When the woven cloth is sold, the profits are shared among the women and further loans are negotiated. Angie said, "No men are involved!" (and then promptly gave the cash I paid for my purchases over to a man!)

The set-up is the only time that nylon thread is used. Each segment is separated by bamboo canes - as you can see in the photo. The patterns are complex and the colours vary from natural greens and browns to quite vivid purple and yellow. Personally, I like a bit of bling so my purchases reflected that! For the equivalent of $100 Aussie, I bought three beautiful lengths of fabric. I don't even want to think how that equates to earnings per hours worked ...

Preparing the pattern
The weaving woman sits erect on the concrete with her legs straight out in front. Her back is supported by a shaped wooden rod that fits just above the hips, below the waist. This is connected to, and helps stabalise, the loom. You can see it quite clearly in the photo below. A weight is suspended above the loom for traction. The thread is dyed and can be silk or some other natural fibre.
At the loom
There was a little girl (less than 18 months old) with one of the weaving women. She was playing with an enormous pair of scissors and I had to ask Angie to please take them away from her! In my mind's eye could see her fingers being severed - grandmother instinct takes over ...

I hope this video clip works. I was enchanted by the graceful movements and cheerful demeanour of the weaving women, so beautiful.

video

The Weaver's village is a dusty place. There are hens wandering about and, in a very small pen, a goat making plaintive bleating noises. There was a whelping bitch who barked at us. I don't know why these dogs disturb me so much.

More to come so hang in there.



Monday, 22 September 2014

diversion

Slight diversion from Lombok trip ...
Fool's Assassin (The Fitz and The Fool Trilogy, #1)Fool's Assassin by Robin Hobb
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fool's Assassin (Book #1 of The Fitz and The Fool Trilogy) is the best Robin Hobb that I have read - this is a magical book, unputdownable. Bee, the newest Farseer, is a delight. No spoilers from me so best you read the book yourself! I did not want to finish it and I hope book 2 and book 3 are not far off.


View all my reviews

Friday, 12 September 2014

Roads, Rocks and Buffalo

Water Buffalo on the road
The road to Tanjung Aan Beach is not the best we've ever travelled. Roland immediately named it The Binga Highway after the road between Binga and Kamativi in Zimbabwe (the worst road we've ever travelled). Water buffalo on their way to the beach keep the pace slow. Their skin looks like it is made from thick grey canvas with bright pink underneath, especially the males' testicles. What do the buffalo do on the beach? I don't know - they just seem to roam around and then go back from whence they came. There are many children with buckets on the road. I thought they were begging - which they are but also filling in the potholes with dirt! So tourists are invited to give them money for fixing up the road! Abdul (our driver) took the road slowly, dodging water buffalo, children, tourists on motorbikes with surfboards on the side, and potholes. In fact, the road was more potholes than road. This southern end of Lombok has a similar climate to Northern Australia. At this time of year (August/September) the rains have not yet arrived and the landscape is dry. Hence, the crops on the side of the road are similar to Zimbabwe - tobacco, maize, fodder for the cattle.

Tanjung Aan Beach is a beautiful spot. The day we went, there were few people and not many hawkers. Abdul told us to ignore the hawkers - he really looked out out for us wherever we went. but even he had to pay to park the car in the shade!

Building a shelter for the tourists
Beach dogs scavenge along the water line. I heard that the bitches whelp up in the dunes behind Warung Turtle. Some beach dogs die because of eating blowies (toad-fish) which are deadly poisonous.


We climbed to the top of a huge rock. Going up was easy enough but coming down was a different story. I had to slide down on my bottom. There were a few other people on top of the rock including an old woman with a bale of sarongs. She was sitting right on the edge of the rock over the breaking surf. When she stood up she hefted the sarongs on to her head and gracefully made her way down the rock ... standing up!
The sand at this end of the beach is not crystals but round grains. I believe quick sand is similar and it is difficult to walk through - dry or wet. I can only compare it to tiny ball bearings.

View from the top of the rock
There were a few surfers; from where we were standing they looked to be children. The surf was enormous. Since returning to Australia we've heard of three surfers going missing off Bali and Lombok.




More to come. Watch this space





Tuesday, 9 September 2014

10 Days without newspapers

Coconut time on Kuta Beach, Lombok

One of the questions that Roland asked me after we decided to visit Lombok was, "Will I be able to get The Australian?"
After I stopped laughing I said, "You may get one somewhere but there's no guarantee that it will be today's or even this week's."
"Oh well, I'll be able to watch the news on TV." I said I doubted we would have TV where we were staying (we didn't).
At the end of our holiday I asked him, "Did you miss the newspaper and TV?" After a pause Roland agreed that he had not; well not really.

Our first night in Kuta we spent at Heavenly Homestay, which is right next door to Yuli's Homestay - where we stayed for the rest of the time. There is a Mosque very close by. The first morning the Muezzin sounded as though he was standing right in the room. The loudspeakers on top of the Mosque are pointed directly at Heavenly Homestay. There is more to this story. Sometimes they use a recording and sometimes the Muezzin is 'live'. The current Imam just happens to be a bit deaf so he turns up the sound. By the time we left, we were more-or-less used to the early morning Call to Prayer and on the final morning, Roland even slept through it.

One night we were awoken by a strange call. I thought it may be a monkey. Roland thought it was an owl. In the event it turned out to be a gecko - this is the best sound recording I could find. The call is loud, much louder than you'd think a small reptile could make. Other night noises were mainly dogs squealing, barking and fighting. Lombok dogs are legion, many more in Kuta (South coast) than in Senggigi (more tourists - less dogs). Some of the dogs look much like dingoes but the big difference is that dingoes don't bark. I found them to be aggressive. They are covered in sarcoptic and/or demodectic mange and riddled with parasites. As far as I could see, very few are looked after or owned by anyone. Many of these dogs live on the beach and shelter from the sun under the fishing boats. I understand that they eat almost anything - including coconuts. I believe rabies is not common in Lombok.


We only see two cats, both small, multi-coloured (torties) with the funny little curly tail similar to Bali cats. The cats are timid and only visit in the early morning. I watch them as I do my asana practice on the verandah of our room.


Each morning, I greet the staff as they pass by to start work for the day, "Salamat pagi!" and their response, "Pagi!" The exchange of greetings lifts my spirits even as I think about it.