I went to a kampung where they made ikat and they told me about the process of making a proper ikat. To make a large piece, like the one I’m wearing, it can take a minimum of 8 months. Why? Because to get the colors of the dye, they need to wait for different seasons. Indigo dye plants are only available during dry season, red dye plants (nilam) are only available during rainy season. Then the process doesn’t use any design in advance. The women simply weave to their feelings different designs based on what they know. Cockatoo means communication. Crocodile means power, and can only be used by nobles. Horse signifies vehicle to heaven. Ducks and chickens mean parental love. Lion means kingdom, a relic from the past colonization by the Dutch as it used to signify Queen Wilhelmina.
A good piece of large-sized real ikat from natural dye can set you back anywhere from IDR 5 mn (around $500). A chemical dyed one should be a lot cheaper and has a brighter color scheme. I’d recommend buying an ikat piece in Sumba Timur because the design is much more intricate than Sumba Barat! #AlyTravelDiary #AlyGoesToSumba