Alor Regency
Ternate Island, Umapura Village, East Nusa Tenggara

Among the types of weaving in NTT, the woven fabric pattern from Alor Island is fairly simple and less popular. But behind its simplicity, the ethnic fabric in fact has a unique coloring process.

At least 180 natural dyes have been found which are all inherited by their ancestors

Ternate Island, which is part of the small island of Alor Regency, East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) can only be reached by crossing using a motorboat.The Ternate Island has four villages, namely Umapura, Bogakele, Biatabang, and Abangbul. Most of the people living there are fishermen.

Most of the mothers in this island are making ikat weaving crafts. This ikat weaving has a variety of patterns, from elephant, fish, squid, sea cucumbers, butterflies, turtles and also other marine animals.

Among the types of weaving in NTT, the woven fabric pattern from Alor Island is fairly simple and less popular. But behind its simplicity, the ethnic fabric in fact has a unique coloring process. Until now, at least 180 natural dyes have been found which are all inherited by their ancestors. All natural dye is taken from the environment around the island which only has one well source of clean water. Some of the coloring materials commonly used are pen wood, red resin trees, wild ambarella leaves, turmeric, processed seaweed, and also boiled water from sea cucumber. To bring out certain colors on the thread, processing with the right ingredients is needed. Bright pink color, for example, will emerge by using refined ‘pen’ tree branches.
Indigo colors can be produced by mixing ambarella leaves and seaweed. Then, red color is derived from resin tree. Green color is produced from papaya leaves, yellow color were made from turmeric and black color came from indigo plant leaves. There are 30 types of colors can be produced from the living plants on Alor Island. The coloring process was using traditional methods, by cooking the material on a cauldron or frying pan. Along together with a group of weavers from Alor, East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), I conducted a series of community development on Kenari Island, Alor, precisely in Hula village, Alor Besar.
Perhaps it is the first time we found a source of natural dyes from marine biota. One of the marine biota that been used as coloring material is sea cucumbers.