The ancient art of hand weaving fabric has its roots in the primary obvious purpose to cloth the human body although a need for ornamentation creeps into any clothing tradition. There is a dramatic difference between textiles woven for every day use & those woven for ceremonial use, the most common occasions for this being: weddings, births, deaths, festivals & spirit worship rites.
The back-strap loom, a conveniently portable weaving mechanism, was the earliest form of loom. To this day, some cultures in areas away from major population centers continue to produce textiles by this means. The most ancient form of weaving involved a continuous warp with patterns created on the warp threads.
While the origin of loom weaving is unknown, it is assumed to have been introduced in ancient times. Its antiquity can be inferred by the fact that some cultures possess legends about weaving.
A common theme about cloth that links Southeast Asian cultures is that woven cloth is rarely cut to the shape of the body but rather draped or folded.
Women were the weavers for home use & in the small cottage industry. Girls from an early age participated in steps of the process, starting with processing the fiber and spinning. Older woman, were specialists in certain types of dyes, such as indigo; these women were considered to have special powers over these dyes.
Patterns were the reserve of women of the family in some areas ,Eastern Sumba, handed down from generation to generation. The patterns were preserved as examples so that each generation could copy them. If there were no more female weavers in the family, the patterns were buried with the last known weaver rather than risk having these revealed to someone outside the line of descent...Ann Wright-Parsons
The legacy of the past is brought alive in the ancient symbols that live in these fabrics as living art.
In the tapestry of life we are all connected....Anita Moorjari