Traditional weaving on Sumbawa.

I spent a long long time watching this woman work. It takes… 8 days I think to weave a length. And if you can’t work out exactly what’s going on here… well. Each of the warp threads (the long black ones reaching away from the weaver) is about the width of sewing thread. They’re tied to the loom, which fastens to a beam behind the weaver. She leans backwards to keep constant tension on the warp threads. The warp threads have been threaded through loops hanging off a crossbar – you can see one with red loops being used. It raises and lowers the warp threads for a basic cloth. The two bamboo poles and the greenish plastic one also hold up pattern threads that she uses specifically for the design. At this stage she’s just weaving plain black cloth.

So, the comb is pulled back, to keep the warp threads separated, and to shove the weft thread up tight against the previously woven section. Then the smooth wooden bar is used to, essentially, ‘hammer’ the thread into place against the cloth. The red bar is raised, to raise the alternate warp threads, and then the shuttle is literally tossed through. The shuttle carries the warp thread from left to right and back again – inside that piece of bamboo is a spool of black cotton. So it’s thrown through, the sides are checked to make sure they’re even, and then pulled back with the comb, shoved into place with the wooden beam, and on to the next pass of the shuttle.




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