Hawzah News Agency - (Nagekeo - Indonesia) - Rumah Sa’o Pipi Tolo (Sa’o Pipi Tolo House), founded by a retired member of the National Police, Com. Gen. Gregorius Gories Mere, brings together works of art through the characteristic weaving of Nagekeo, Ende and the whole island of Flores by Muslim and Christian women. Prior to the organization, the women wove fabrics in their own home and sell them at much lower prices.
Gories said that Rumah Sa’o Pipi Tolo was founded after his daughter, Jesika Mere, visited Flores along with her husband. Jesika Mere told him that she had fallen in love with the hospitality of the Flores people, the beauty of its nature, as well as the woven fabrics. She was inspired to do something to help increase their income and to bring women together through the art of weaving that was unique to Flores.
My daughter and her husband had inspired me to do something for Flores for the development and improvement of the local people’s income, which mainly came from the weaving of fabrics characteristic to Nagekeo, Ngada, Ende and all of Flores,” he said recently.
At the time, he went on to say, the price of fabrics woven by the women of Flores was very low, even though they were of very high quality.
“The craftswomen were selling their creations at between Rp 250,000 [US$17.93] and Rp 300,000, while they needed a month to complete them and sourced the dye from nature. So, the weaving process was incongruent with the low price,” Gories said.
The archbishop of Ende, Mgr. Vinsentius Potokotta, expressed his hope that the initiative would not only empower women but also promote tolerance among people of different religious backgrounds.
“[Such initiatives] also encourage and inspire us [priests] to do real things for the empowerment of women,” he said.
Alfonsa Horeng, a local female leader and also a well-known ikat expert, explained that weaving was an inherited tradition and maintained by women of different religions. All this time, Flores ikat is intended for customary affairs, bridalwear and other necessities, thus, selling the fabrics —whether to local or international markets — was not a priority for the women of Flores.
“I am a weaving trainer for the Pipi Tolo weaving house; I help the women weave fabrics that would be worth selling internationally. I train them on original dyeing techniques with ingredients sourced from Flores’ nature, on ikat motifs for Nagekeo, which are called Malapoma in Lawo and Ende,” Alfonsa said, adding that she helped and collaborated with Gories to train Nagekeo and Ende weavers who work at the Sa’o Pipi Tolo house.
Siti Lutwina, a weaver from the Nangaroro Weaving Group, said that weavers hailed from Riti Tonggo and Nangaroro villages, which had their own motives, such as Malapoma, Jawatiwa and Riti Tonggo.
“Nagekeo’s special woven products will be promoted to foreign buyers, both in Indonesia and overseas. We’re very grateful,” she said. (spl)