With edits by Flores Plus editorThe next time you’re in Sikka, Flores, do visit the Lepo Lorun Women Weaving Cooperation. Located in the village of Nita in Sikka Regency on the island of Flores. The centre was pioneered by Alfonsa Horeng in 2003 to preserve the ancient organic art of Ikat weaving and dyeing using natural colours made from tea barks, leaves, fruits and roots. It is a long and complicated process, and many villages have forgotten the old ways and ancient techniques.
Lepo Lorun in the Sikka language means “weaving house” – as you know, East Nusa Tenggara is famous for its weaves, also called Tenun Ikat or Ikat.
The process of dyeing each piece of cloth with natural colours is a long and detailed process – due to this, it is often shunned by the present generation. Alfonsa Horeng works to preserve this with women from surrounding villages.
In addition to purely producing the Ikat, the women here also design and create accessories using the Ikat such as scarves, bags, bandanas and overalls for women, using woven fabric. Woven fabrics in Lepo Lorun are processed naturally by the hands of patient and tough women. The intricate process takes time, which involves spinning threads, binding motifs, colouring before the fabric becomes a fully woven Ikat with motifs typical of Sikka district.
These weaving centers are spread across seventeen villages in the Sikka Regency. Weavers are given the title seniwati (women artist). According to Alfonsa, Ikat is a valuable heirloom and part of the nation’s cultural identity. Looking at the immense efforts of each seniwati in Sikka District, we should begin to contribute to the preservation of the traditional Ikat. One form of tangible contribution is to help disseminate information about the features of this weaving.
For Alfonsa Horeng, the activity is not merely a handicraft, but rather a preservation of her ancestral cultural heritage. Those who are interested could come by to Lepo Lorun, where there is a homestay which is part of the Flores Homestay Network. Visitors can stay there and participate in weaving workshops, meet musicians, artists and sing and dance along to beautiful Sikka music.
Image source: @_enotunya on Instagram