Textiles have been a feature of Balinese traditional life for hundreds of years. Cloth is central to all Balinese spiritual activities from the wearing of the sash and sarong to temple ceremonies, the use of the poleng, the black and white checked cloth which adorns temples, rocks and statues, to the gold and silver threaded songket cloth which is still worn for special occasions such as weddings.
Traditional weaving is one of the most important arts and crafts in Bali and some of the most celebrated of these handcrafted textiles, the Balinese Endek cloth, once designed exclusively for the nobility, is created in the village of Sidemen. Just a 20 minute walk from Villa Kropak, is the Pelangi Weaving workshop. Here, amidst the clacking of the hand looms, local craftswomen create the subtly patterned cloth following an age old and complex method of tie-dying and weaving techniques.
The Pelangi weavers are highly skilled and at the workshop you can watch them as they work, crafting lengths of cloth from hundreds of threads loaded onto traditional handlooms. Craftsmen were responsible for creating the patterns and each loom produces a different one.
The distinctive designs are created by the threads. Carefully measured lengths of yarn are dyed using vegetable dyes then tied off in bunches with thread that resists the next dye bath. When the tie-offs are removed the threads are loaded onto the looms and as weaving progresses, the combination of different coloured threads gradually form the beautiful geometric patterns of the Endek cloth.
Today there is a revival of interest in traditional weaving in Sidemen. As well as Pelangi, there are several Endek workshops in and around the village, some are small family operated looms, others specialise in Songket weaving, and many of these are within walking distance of our guesthouse. You can watch the women at work and purchase a unique piece of Endek cloth to use as a scarf, a table runner or sarong -a wonderful reminder of your stay in this very special corner of Bali.