One of the things that we had to tick off our To Do list was the salaon (indigo plant) growing in the wild. We tackled it in Muara. Restuala taught us to recognize it and took us initially to a garden where it was growing as one plant among many in a scrubby thicket. In the end, however, Nashir decided to stalk a patch growing on the side of the road because the lake formed a stunning backdrop. He has come to the insight that the lake gives identity to the Batak. Without the lake, so much more of the ancient culture would be lost .
Muara was also the place to film sigira, a dye process that I had never witnessed before and only read about. Muara weavers used to practise it. Apparently, after they had finished dyeing their yarn with indigo and they wanted to transform the deep, rich blue colour into black, they took it to the rice fields where the iron content in the mud did the trick.
|Restuala holding the indigo-dyed yarn that we will
eventually submerge in the mud of the rice fields.
Our indigo dyer passed on the task to a fellow villager and off we trekked to the rice fields.
|Our indigo dyer was working on her coffee harvest, so she passed on the
task of re-enacting sigira to her neighbour in the village, explaining how it was done.
|The sigira dyer in the rice field hears that she
has to make another hole, this time in the light.
|The sigira setting in the rice fields was wonderful with Lake Toba
in the distance.
|Even Mas Nashir got muddy feet.