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Sumba Ikat Weaving

Sumba Ikat Weaving, A Wondrous Cultural Masterpiece Since 17th Century

Sumba Ikat Weaving, A Wondrous Cultural Masterpiece Since 17th Century

Sumba Ikat Weaving
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Sumba Ikat weaving is one of Indonesia’s most iconic traditional crafts, and the island of Sumba is known for producing some of the finest ikat fabrics in the world. Sumbanese ikat is made from locally grown cotton and dyed with natural dyes extracted from plants, roots, and leaves. The weaving process is complex and time-consuming, but the results are stunningly beautiful and intricate.

History and Cultural Significance of Sumba Ikat Weaving

Ikat weaving has been practiced on Sumba for centuries. It is an important part of the island’s culture and identity, and ikat fabrics are used in a variety of traditional ceremonies and festivals. Ikat is also a symbol of status and wealth, and the most prized ikat fabrics are often passed down from generation to generation.

The Ikat Weaving Process

Sumba Ikat Weaving
Fig. 1. Ikat weaving process

The ikat weaving process begins with the cultivation of cotton. The cotton is then harvested, ginned, and spun into yarn. The yarn is then dyed using natural dyes. The dyeing process is very complex and can involve multiple steps, depending on the desired colors and patterns.

Once the yarn has been dyed, it is ready to be woven. The ikat weaving technique is a resist dyeing technique, which means that the yarn is dyed before it is woven into fabric. This is done by wrapping tightly bound bundles of yarn with palm leaves or other materials to resist the dye. The yarn is then dyed in a series of steps, with different sections being wrapped and dyed to create the desired patterns.

Once the yarn has been dyed, it is warped onto a loom. The weaving process is then carried out by hand. The weaver uses a treadle to raise and lower different sections of the warp threads, and then passes the weft threads through the warp threads to create the fabric.

The weaving process is a slow and meticulous one. It can take several weeks or even months to weave a single piece of ikat fabric, depending on the complexity of the design.

Common Motifs and Designs in Sumbanese Ikat

Sumba Ikat Weaving
Fig. 2. Ikat weaving motifs

Sumbanese ikat is known for its bold colors and intricate geometric and floral patterns. Common motifs include horses, crocodiles, snakes, buffalo, birds, and flowers. These motifs often have symbolic meaning, representing different aspects of Sumbanese culture and mythology.

Uses of Sumba Ikat Weaving

Ikat fabrics are used in a variety of ways on Sumba. They are worn as clothing, used to decorate homes and temples, and used in traditional ceremonies and festivals.

Ikat clothing is worn by both men and women on Sumba. Men typically wear ikat sarongs and sashes, while women wear ikat sarongs and blouses. Ikat is also used to make traditional headwear, such as turbans and shawls.

Ikat fabrics are also used to decorate homes and temples on Sumba. Ikat tapestries are often hung on the walls of homes and temples, and ikat fabrics are also used to make cushions, pillows, and other decorative items.

Sumba Ikat Weaving
Fig. 3. The uses of Sumba Ikat Weaving

Ikat fabrics play an important role in traditional ceremonies and festivals on Sumba. Ikat is used to make ceremonial clothing, costumes, and decorations. Ikat is also used as a form of dowry and as a gift for special occasions.

How to Buy Sumba Ikat Weaving

Sumba Ikat Weaving is available to purchase from a variety of sources, including online retailers, souvenir shops, and local markets on Sumba. When buying ikat, it is important to choose a reputable retailer to ensure that you are getting a high-quality product.

Caring for Sumba Ikat Weaving

Ikat fabrics are relatively delicate and require special care to keep them looking their best. Here are a few tips for caring for Sumba Ikat Weaving:

  • Hand wash ikat fabrics in cold water using mild detergent.
  • Do not machine wash or dry ikat fabrics.
  • Lay flat to dry in the shade.
  • Avoid exposing ikat fabrics to direct sunlight.
  • Store ikat fabrics in a cool, dry place.


Sumba Ikat Weaving is a beautiful and intricate craft that has been passed down for generations. Sumbanese ikat is prized for its bold colors, intricate patterns, and cultural significance. If you are looking for a unique and authentic souvenir from Indonesia, be sure to consider purchasing a piece of Sumba Ikat Weaving.

You can take private trip of Waturanda Trip to Sumba Ikat Weaving Center. There is promo for the trip. You will get many facilities from us which is very unfortunate if missed.

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