VINTAGE fabric FROM Flores.

We bought it in Ende, a city that feels more like a town. Ende is the second biggest city on the island of Flores, but its population is only around 60.000. There is an ikat street market close to the sea port, full of vibrant new and vintage ikat fabrics.


After looking around for a while, I couldn’t resist falling in love with this one. The colours, the pattern and the texture were perfect. It was originally a sarong, so its shape is like a large tube worn by women wrapped around their waists. In fact, I was pretty amazed at how  the sarong is still commonly used by people in Flores. And I saw a way of wearing it that was completely new for me: instead of being wrapped around the waist and worn as a skirt, many men and women wrapped it around their shoulders, wearing it as a dress, leaving just an arm uncovered.


This ikat is about 75 years old, so the  motifs are pretty rare nowadays. You can see the detailed pattern and the small motifs that show just how  intrincate the design is.


It was dyed with natural colours, using indigo leaves for the blue/black colours and morinda roots for the red palette.


It was quite difficult to take a picture of the whole fabric (it is almost 2 meters long), so the quality is not great. But you can see in the close up above the expertise of the weaver who made it a few decades ago.


The latest adition to our collection is a gorgeus ikat piece from Ende (Central Flores).  We love it not only for its beautifully detailed pattern, but because it also gives us the opportunity to know a little bit more about the area where it was woven. We don't know exactly who the weaver was as we found it through our local supplier in the area, but we'll share with you all we've learnt from it.


Ende and Lio are the largest regions in Central Flores, which in total forms a population of less than 300.000. The regions are separated by the mystical Mt. Kelimutu, and roads are incredibly mountainous and rocky throughout the whole island. Weaving habits are quite uneven in the area, as weaving it's not a custom for most of the Lio people. Some say it is banned for them to do so and only two tribes (Mbuli and Nggela) are allowed to weave  and consequently need to provide for the other Lio tribes. In contrast, all tribes in Ende are allowed to weave, but most of the population is not accustomed to weave so weaving it is mostly done in Ndona.

Lio people believe Kelimutu Crater Lakes are the soul’s final resting place, a place where we all return once our lives’ journeys come to an end. Pati Ka Du’a Bapu Ata Mata is an event where the Lionese sacrifice various type of food offering to the ancestors, known as Konde and Ratu. It is to show their gratitude for the past year and hold prayers for blessings in favor of prosperity, health, and good life for the upcoming year.


Ende, being located on Flores's southern coast by the Savu Sea was a convenient port for trade, and was influenced artistically by the patola trade-cloths the Dutch used to appease local rulers. The 'royal' label on this type of textile caused them to be popular in Ende and surrounding regions including Ndona and Lio, rendering the styles of the regions to be quite similar, and cloths can be hard to differentiate.


One of the eerily beautiful Kelimutu Crater lakes, which lies roughly halfway between Lio and Ende.

One of the eerily beautiful Kelimutu Crater lakes, which lies roughly halfway between Lio and Ende.

Cloths from Central Flores generally have a brownish-red based color. Ende sarongs in particular are detailed with distinctive black bands called mita-mere, which separate the mid-section and the ends.  Sarongs from Ende also tend to have a redder color consistency, while those of Leo are normally darker.


To create a full sarong, two pieces are woven seperately and sewn together being joined in the middle. In general, motives for women are the typical theme of flora, fauna and animals such as horses, leaves, birds, flies or fly wings. As for the motifs and floral scarf is dominated by small black lines interspersed among the motives. Woven cloths for men in this region are usually colored with a black or blue-black base, and have strong striped designs. 


Sarongs such as ours particular from Ende can be recognised from others by the mita-mere used, which are the black bands which separate the mid-section from the ends. The red and browns used by the Lio region are normally deeper, while Ende clothes tend to have a more red over-all tone. Our particular piece is detailed with horse (jara) and diamond (wajik) motifs. Traditionally a sarong, it would traditionally be worn by women at the time of family gatherings and religious events, dressing in accordance with the standing horse motif and being careful that it is not worn with the horses upside-down.  


Many thanks to sources such as Budaya Indonesia and Peter Ten Hoopen's Pusaka Collection!