Weaving Process

Weaving is a process of creating cloths by interlacing long threads (pakan threads) passing in one direction with others (lungsin/lusi threads) at a right angle to them. Before weaving, there is a process called “anai”, which is placing the lungsin threads in parallel on the weaving tools, accordant to the cloth’s desirable width.

Non-machine weaving tool is used to hold the lungsin thread’s strand whilst the pakan threads are being inserted crossways between the lungsin threads, manually. This crossways pattern between the lungsin and pakan threads are called as webbing. Most of the woven products are made with three webbing techniques: plain webbing, satin webbing, and keper webbing.

Plain cloth is a result of weaving only one color thread, weaved with some colorful threads in artistic and decorative designs, or even a complicated tapestry cloth.

Indonesian traditional weave crafts includes lurik, ikat weaving, songket, and geringsing. While creating an ikat weaving, before it is weaved into a cloth, the strands of the threads are being tied and dyed.

Exclusive Picture by Muti Siahaan

Types of Weave

Weaving is an art that bonds closely with knowledge system, culture, belief, nature, and the social system of the people. Since the social culture in Indonesia is diverse, weaving in each areas has their own different traits. Therefore, each of weaving types and techniques are a form of the culture’s diversity. The quality of a woven cloth usually seen through the material quality, the beauty of the colors, motif, and the decorations.

These are several woven cloths in Indonesia.


1. Ulos Cloth

Ulos, or often called ulos cloth is one of Indonesian traditional clothes. Ulos has been preserved and developed through generations by Batak people, North Sumatera. From its original language, ulos means cloth. Ulos is made with a non-machine weaving tool, similar with songket (traditional Palembang cloth).

2. Songket Cloth

Songket is the traditional woven cloth of Melayu and Minangkabau people in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei. Songket is categorized into brocade weave group. Songket is woven with hands, using gold and silver threads which commonly used for formal events. The metallic woven threads give a crystal sparkling effect.

3. Gringsing Cloth

Gringsing is the only Indonesian traditional woven cloth that is made using double knot technique and takes 2-5 years to make. This cloth is originally from Tenganan Village, Bali. Tenganan people usually wear a gringsing cloth that is hundreds of years old for some special events. “Gringsing” comes from “Gring” (sick) and “sing” (no), making this cloth as a bad luck repellent for people – so they live healthily and ‘not sick’. Many traditional ceremony in Bali, including teeth cutting ceremony, wedding, and other religious ceremonies, are held using the strength of gringsing cloth.

Mrs. Nursitti P. Sihotang showing an original Karoness Ulos

4. Biboki Cloth

Timor’s woven cloth was originally made as an everyday clothing for the people, but then it has developed into a traditional culture clothing (parties, dances, ceremonies, weddings, funeral, etc). And until this day, it has become the official formal clothing material which designed to fit into the modern fashion; also to fulfill the customers’ demand. Along the way, weaving has also become one of Nusa Tenggara Timur people’s source of income, mainly for villagers. Mainly, women who live in the village use their time to weave in order to increase their family income and to fulfill their clothing needs.

5. Sumba Woven Cloth

Sumba woven cloth is often called as an art because of the beauty of its design and the technical skills needed in its making. The woven cloth form Sumba Island, Nusa Tenggara Timur Province is one of the world’s cultural heritage among of other wastra (cloths that are made traditionally), which is an essential need in performing traditional ceremonies. Sumba woven cloth has unique motifs of animals including birds, horned deer, slithering snake, turtle, and alligator to symbolize kings and rulers.

6. Lurik Woven Cloth

Lurik is one of the national woven cloth that was born and evolved in Java Island. There are several other woven cloths which look similar with Lurik, such as Ulos (Batak), Ikat cloth (Nusa Tenggara), Songket cloth (Sumatera Barat), and Buton cloth. We can also find Lurik in different motifs in Bali. Some historical findings show that Lurik woven cloth has already existed in Java since prehistoric era. An inscription from the era of Mataram Empire (851-882 AD) proved the existence of Lurik with pakan malang motif. Another inscription came from Erlangga King from East Java in 1033, mentioned the tuluh watu cloth which is a type of Lurik. There was also a scarf on a Terracota statue from Trowulan in East Java from the 15 AD century (Sonobudaya, Yogyakarta), showing how to wear Lurik in that era. The strongest prove comes from many cultural statues and remains from all around Java.

7. Toraja Woven Cloth

Toraja woven cloth is one of ancestral heritages that is preserved until this day. It has a very high importance and meaning in Toraja culture, which symbolizes the bond between human kind and nature. This woven cloth holds an important role in various cultural ceremonies and also symbolizes wealth. In older era, a bundle of woven cloth was used to pay taxes and a symbol of peace in a war between the aristocrats. Therefore, only certain people who have those cloths, such as the aristocrats or those who are wealthy. To get this cloth, they had to trade it with livestock that had a high value – buffalos, for example.

8. Troso Woven Cloth

Troso ikat weave or troso woven cloth is a handmade weave craft from Desa Troso, Jepara. Troso woven cloth is a result of weaving the strands of pakan or lungsin threads which are tied and dyed – using non-machine weaving tool. Ikat cloth can be sewn as clothes or fashion accessories, furniture cloth covers, or interior décor.

9. Dayak Woven Cloth

Today, Dayak ikat woven cloth can only be found in Sintang and Kapuas Hulu Regency, although it was well-known by all people in West Kalimantan. Back in the day, people would always weave to kill boredom and get some money when they were relaxing after done with farming. Thus, weaving was done mostly by Dayak women. They also learned to weave on their own.

10. Lombok Woven Cloth

Lombok also has their own woven cloth from the Sasak tribe. This manually woven cloth has their own diverse motif with the price ranging from tens of thousands untuk million rupiah, in accordance to the level of softness of each cloth. This Sasak woven cloth can be used or recycled into a new product. For example, a piece of Sasak woven cloth can be transformed into clothes, tablecloths, bags, or interior décor accessories. In conclusion, Sasak woven cloth has triggered the development of SMEs and increasing the welfare of the people.

11. Lampung/Tapis Woven Cloth

Inuh and Bidak Galah Napuh ikat weave are the oldest weave in Lampung. Inuh ikat weave was originally worn by women on their wedding day. Women who wore it had to be wives from the eldest son in the family. In that era, not all woman could wear inuh cloth, while bidak galah ikat weave could only be worn for traditional ceremonies for men and women. The difference between these two lies in the motifs. Inuh ikat weave has a more diverse motif such as plants, boats and traditional houses, while bidak galah napuh weave motif is little spots from animal skin. Napuh is a type of animal like mousedeer, that has little spots on their neck. Inuh ikat woven cloth is commonly worn in traditional ceremonies. However, its utility has been shifted in this modern era – this cloth is now mostly worn for fashion style with the approval of the people.

12. Bali Endek Weave

Bali ikat weave or Endek is one of the cultural product which was originally worn only by the elders and aristocrats. Nowadays, almost all Balinese wear it for big ceremonies or go praying in the Pura. Bali Endek cloth are mostly designed and produced for the local market in Bali, which explains why the colors, motifs, and designs are made in accordance to the people’s likings. The creative process in making Endek has made this cloth as one of Bali’s unique cultural identity. The harmony in the life of Endek crafters has given many inspirations to the more attractive Endek designs. In the process of making Endek, there is a term called ‘Nyantri’: a process of brushing colors with bamboo brush on particular parts. There are some rituals involved in making Endek, and the people are still using traditional weaving tool to produce high quality cloths.