Every weave and stitch can be felt by anyone who touches the intricately woven handcrafted fabric from Toraja. Displayed proudly in amalgamation with beautiful rice fields surrounding the premise, the clothes are essentially the pieces of souls of the ancestral spirits that still exist until today.
While you will not see it from the outside, within every Tongkonan hang the beautiful hand woven fabrics for which Toraja is famed. Ikats, pieces of fabric woven on large looms hold a special place in Torajan culture. These fabrics are used to embalm bodies of the deceased.
Every Ikat can take months to produce and is the result of a painstaking labor of love. Woven into the design of the fabric are eye-catching geometric designs. Every Ikat is unique. Motifs can include depictions of water buffalo and images of ancestors interlinked with dramatic arrows and the sekon, which represent a human figure.
Ikats are colored in reds, cream, white, yellow and dark blue. The dyes used to color the Ikats are created from local ingredients like indigo for the blue, lime for the white and chilies and dammar resin for the red. The colors of the Ikat have special symbolism in Torajan culture. For example red represents life and yellow purity.
Traditionally Ikats were used in funeral rites or hung on the walls of Tongkonan. Ikats are still used to embalm a corpse immediately after death but before the funeral. This period of embalmment could last for weeks and in some cases up to a year. The quality of the fabric and the beauty of the design have made Ikats a much sought-after souvenir for tourists visiting Toraja.
Interested in Toraja Art and Craft?
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