The Sotis Handwoven Textiles from South Central Timor
The province of East Nusa Tenggara (Nusa Tenggara Timur, or NTT) is located at the Southern corner of the Indonesian Archipelago, a region that I have visited the most in the past 7 years. NTT is home to some of the most vibrant and exquisite Indonesian traditional textiles, is hard not to do revisits each of these islands.
My visit to Flores, Sumba, Rote, Lembata, Alor, Solor & Timor has given me a very rich textile knowledge and experience. It was such a privilege to have the opportunities to meet with so many weavers and share weaving stories with them, and getting to know them and their work closely has prompted me to revisit these islands again and again.
This year, I revisited Southern Central Timor (TTS) to meet with several weavers there, headed by father Sepri Adonis, a very young priest with amazing vision, who devoted so much of his life to helping develop Neke Village. I have never been to Neke before and I didn’t really know much about the type of weaving from this area. I have researched a lot about ikat textiles from Niki-Niki and have wanted to meet weavers there. Sadly after months of researching, I wasn’t very lucky to be connected with active weavers in Niki-Niki, but was very happy that Mr Dicky Senda, a young social worker recommended that I visit father Adonis weaving village to find out more about TTS textiles.
I was here with Olvira and Tara, to distribute reading glasses to the weavers. On arrival, we were greeted by father Adonis and a few young weavers and ushered us towards a small traditional Timorese hut behind the church where they usually gather for meetings. A few back-strap looms were placed on the yards with beautiful bright half-finished textiles on them. Everyone was gathering near the back-strap looms casually. We got introduced to the group briefly, then young girls were seated to perform weaving on the back-strap looms, each girl accompanied and guided by a senior weaver. This was such an amazing way to encourage the young generation to continue weaving tradition. Father Adonis looked very involved with this project and showing tremendous passion to succeed, and has such a close relationship with all the weavers. They all looked extremely happy and proud of their work and achievement here. The girls had such joy to demonstrate their talents and skills, truly inspiring.
The weaver’s groups here produce both Lotis and ikat textile. Lotis/Sotis textiles are handwoven textiles which are produced using the very complex supplementary weaving technique. The children here are taught to weave regularly and they are also encouraged to teach textile enthusiasts, visitors to the village.
Neke weavers group welcome visitors to the village and they can arrange longer-term visits, should you wish to learn to weave there. There are so many other activities organised by father Adonis with the weavers here. You can learn how to make snacks from Moringa Oleifera leaves (drum stick leaves, called daun kelor in Indonesia), learn how to make chocolate bars from locally grown cocoa beans, learn how to weave baskets and other things from local palm leaves.
How to get there:
The drive from Soe takes approximately 2 hours here. The road is fairly good mostly, but there are challenges along the way. The village called, Desa Neke, fairly near Niki-Niki. The region is TTS (South Central Timor).