Ikat Weaving from Kapuas Hulu, Borneo, Indonesia


Kapuas Hulu Regency of Borneo is situated in the border of Indonesia-Malaysia.

According to Dayak culture, Dayak Iban weave for special events, yet as more demands from outside the tribe, they make weaving for wider markets, such as for collectors, fashion or traditional textile enthusiasts.

To make ikat weaving size 1 m X 2 m, it takes at least 2 month and sometimes it takes more if the maker has other works to do. Before making the Dayak motives, women must hold rituals and prayer. If the motifs are owned by other maker, they must ask permission first. The motifs owner usually tell the condition such as making offering or earthenware’s or plates.  If one does not ask permission, they believe that it will bring illness, disaster to the copier. And the worst thing, death can also happen. And even one has been granted with permission, they must consider about dream and the age of the maker as it is related to the safety of the maker and the society.

To make ikat weaving, they must dream first. If they dreams bad dreams , this means they must cancel to weave the motif. And if it is bad dream, they can continue working on the loom as planned. And if family member died, they may not weave and if they break this, one family could fall ill.

If they weave of a motif of a creature which has teeth, they must finish the teeth part before they stop or rest. If they are in weaving process and they have bad dream, they must stop and dismantle the weaving. Weaving is related to spiritual being of the person, sometimes can be “dangerous” that for young weaver, they are only allowed to weave floral motif, leaf, fruit, ocean, mountain or beautiful nature. To make weaving motif of animals such as chicken, lion, crocodile or other animals in mythology, women must be 30-50 years old.

The most dangerous motif in Dayak Iban weaving culture is human motif. For instance when they weave the human head part, must finish the head part, before rest or stop to avoid disaster.

Thera are 4 kinds of Dayak Iban weaving:

KEBAT WEAVING usually has brown as the base color and this is the simplest weaving type. They can finish 2 pieces of Kebat Weaving in one month. This technique involves tying the vertical yarn and then dye them.

SIDAN WEAVING technique by weaving and then the weaved yarns are lifted by nylon yarn and tied to wood or stick.

PILEH WEAVING technique is weaving vertical yarn before weave to horizontal yarn. This technique takes so much patience and now no young generation can weave pileh, and maybe only one, someone that I know.

SUNGKIT WEAVING is tying motif yarn to vertical yarn