Threads of Life sent me for a brief two-day trip to Timor to meet up with some of their weaver groups so that I could see first-hand how they operate in the field. Their Timor field staff, a delightful Atoni man named Willy, was my guide and he introduced me to a great deal. His insights and stories made the experience especially rich. I was excited when he told me about the importance of rhythm in Timorese weaving and how it had become the basis of a music tradition.
bark at the YPBB studio.
When Jean Howe took me up to a visit I Wayan Karya, a charismatic Balinese who has revived the natural dye tradition in Seraya, an eastern part of Bali, I was inspired by my Timorese experience to once again enquire about the music of weaving, mentioning Ompu Sihol’s use of the mouth harp. He enthusiastically affirmed that the mouth harp had also been used in his village. His father was a great aficionado. Pak Karya clearly remembered the tunes that his father would play in the dark before turning over and going to sleep, and he mimicked them with fervour.
|Pak Karya showed MJA Nashir how
indigo dye oxydizes and turns blue.
|I Wayan Karya's mother and their
neighbour playing in two-part harmony
|MJA Nashir filming the weaver in
Seraya as she sang.
I felt a return of the longing that frequently rises up in me: oh, to have several lifetimes! I would spend one of them wandering around the world looking for weaving songs.
|S. Niessen standing with
I Wayan Karya in his beautiful
shop filled with natural dyed
Before we left, we saw a group of small boys entranced by the mouth-harp music being played. One of them grabbed the simple piece of bamboo when the woman laid it down and tried it himself. They all began to mimic its distinctive vibrations. I have hopes that the attention that we gave to the songs of weaving may indeed contribute to their revival in Seraya. A more fulfilling consequence of our visit could scarcely be imagined.