Thursday, May 5, 2011

Wrapped Around in the Past

This is an ikat cloth that was given to me by Ida, a local Wetar girl that came from Alor. Her grandmother gave it to her. Now before you start hating me because I'm so cruel to take this away from her, hear me out.

I fell in love with it the first time I laid my eyes on it. Not only because it had colors that I don't see often in an ikat store, but also because Ida was wearing it on a regular basis making it really wearable. She was wearing it in the kitchen one ordinary day. I stared at it for some time. I couldn't take my eyes of it. I told her I was so sad that her grandmother made it for her, and I wouldn't ask for it since it had personal values.

The same day, later in the night, Ida came to see me and gave it to me. I couldn't accept it. But she insisted, explaining that her grandmother makes a lot of these and it's alright to let one go. I was overwhelmed. 

It's a bit heavy. It slides down a bit every time I use it, but really comfortable. I some times use it as a blanket on hot nights. Mozzies love me. To be honest, wearing it made me feel feminine, elegant, and
very traditionally beautiful.

Which comes down to the current day. I bought another 2 ikat while traveling Flores. I couldn't help it. I fell in love instantly with these two (the small one is just a small ban to tie your waist). I considered hard before buying any of them. Where and when can I use them? Can I take care of them? Is the hassle worth the buy?
My considerations ended to 'I can use it at home' on lazy days. It's the only time I can use it in the city. I can't imagine using it in to town. Not because of stares, but of impracticality.

Then I worry. For someone that loves these hand made treasures, I can only wear them at home. And yet, those like me aren't very much. People are letting go of this tradition. I worry, how can we preserve it if we don't care?

Thinking of what Cindy said, humans skin are so bland of color and texture. Maybe we were not suppose to have this bland cover. Maybe our ancestors were right with their colorful sarongs and ikats and batiks. It was never bland for the elder generation.

The native people of Flores that have been exposed to the modern life still use it because they are still tied to many obligations such as: one must have one when wed and one must wear one during traditional ceremonies which they still hold. However, when talking to these so called modern types, I get the vibe that they would leave this tradition if they could. I detected this vibe, just underneath the surface. What do us city folks have obligation to? None.

I'm trying to find a solution. A solution on how we can wear ikats, or batik or what ever traditional cloth we've made in the past, more practically. Theoretically, these cloths are results of a long research by our ancestors which considered the climate, the activity and such. But now... well... we don't do as what our great grand parents did, so should we leave it all behind too?

This doesn't conclude anything. It's a ramble of my concerns of old tradition I wish I knew how preserve. The most important question is always how?

Or maybe... we don't have to :(?