After finishing our hike in Tetebatu, we went to the small village of Pringgasela to learn about traditional weaving (songket) in local Lombok weaving community. From Tetebatu it was only a 30-minute ride by car. Upon arrival at the weaving village, we were introduced to one of the organizers named Erwin. He explained to us what his organization is about and what they are doing to empower the local people and how various NGOs are involved in helping this community.
Before the tour of the community, we had a Lomboknese lunch cooked by Erwin’s wife. This was probably one of the best meals I have had in Lombok and in Indonesia. Everything was made so fresh and absolutely delicious and yummy. Funnily enough, most of it was vegetarian. There was a delightful fried egg curry dish I haven’t had before and the always amazing urap-urap and gado-gado. The tofu and krupuk were freshly fried as well and tasted really good. It was amazing, and I went for seconds and thirds even.
Once we were all completely satisfied and filled with food, one of the organizers gave us a tour of the weaving village in Pringgasela and, while walking through the many narrow alleyways, we got to see how the production of these cloths and fabrics is done. As is the case in the pottery village of Masbagik, women do mainly all the weaving work here. Most men are working abroad in foreign countries. The money they make over there is send back to the kampung in Pringgasela and is used for the family and to improve the community. This is quite noticeable as many streets and buildings are in quite a good condition.
The weaving is a skill passed down from mothers to daughters and it takes years to learn and even more to master. A special wooden weaving machine is used to weave the clothes. And each motive and pattern is unique to the weaver. Some dyes of the fabrics are all natural; plants, wood, trees, and leaves are used to create indigo or red and other colours. These days some chemicals are added to the dye mix as well, as to retain their colours after washing. The cotton used for weaving is grown and processed into tiny threads locally as well. Weaving one cloth can take a month or even several months depending on the size, difficulty, and intricate nature of the pattern.
Sadly enough, the weaving art at Pringgasela is a slowly dying cultural custom. Times are changing, and young girls have to go to school and study which does not allow them enough time to learn the weaving techniques. And besides, in their free time they would rather watch TV, go online, or play their mobiles and chat with their friends. From the perspective of a teenager it is understandable, but it is also sad in a way. The community, however, plans to combat this problem by opening a weaving school in the future, because it would be such a loss if this technique were to be lost forever. One of the local women I spoke with said it took her 10 years to master the art of weaving perfectly. So, it is a very hard trade.
The clothes, shawls, table and bed covers, sarongs, and other fabrics made by the weavers are absolutely beautiful and are sold in the community center. The producers may actually set the price themselves and the sales people only take a small percentage, which is also returned to the community. Each woven item is unique in pattern and colour as the weaver improvises the motive. We actually bought three cloths with traditional Lombok colours and patterns as the prices were VERY reasonable and afterwards I regretted not buying some more. The cloths are very beautiful and the money goes to a great cause.
I would strongly recommend booking a lunch at the weaving community in Pringgasela as the food there was incredibly delicious and the weaving village was interesting to see.
Our visit to the weaving village marked the end of our East-Lombok trip. Once we said goodbye to the people at the community center, we departed to Sekotong. This tiny town is located on the western peninsula of the south of Lombok. Our destination was the Cocotinos Resort for a few days of sun, sea, and sand.