A day in Sukarara, a weaving village in Central Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara – Our 1st attempt to donate glasses to weavers of Indonesia

Sukarara is a small town in central Lombok, famous for its traditional weaving tradition. The village is located in Jonggak district, Central Lombok Regency.  It is located approximately 25 km from the capital city Mataram, and approximately 5 km from Praya International Airport, Lombok.

The road to Sukarara is good and fairly easy to reach by car. We headed to Sukarara after a visit to Banyumulek, a pottery village in Kediri district, West Lombok Regency. Lombok is a fairly small island, so the distance from Banyumulek to Sukarara is fairly close.  Sukarara is a very popular tourist destination in Lombok, mainly visited for their weaving tradition. However, our visit was extra special as were welcomed in a very special way by the villagers and the weavers there.

We got to Sukarara just after lunch hour, so we were very lucky to have met the weavers before they left for the farms.  We saw a middle age woman emerged from her bamboo hut, a family home where she shares with her husband and children.  The house has a very small veranda where a small weaving tool was placed on top of a small pandan (a type of grass) mat. We asked if we could sit down and watch her weave a little, and she smiled and then performed a brief demonstration. We then started chatting and our meeting got a lot warmer and more relaxed. She paused her weaving and disappeared into the house and later brought out a few of her completed Lombok textiles.

Within a very short time, we noticed that her house was slowly surrounded by villagers and things got a lot more lively and noisy. Within 10 to 15 minutes of our arrival, we were completely surrounded by people from around the village, each with their own collections of songket textile. A young woman came along and erected a few small mats on the yard and in no time, we had the whole villagers, men and women chatting and sharing stories and jokes with us.  It was a wonderful moment. As we have planned this visit, we brought with us 2 large tins of biscuits and a few pair of reading glasses to be distributed to the weavers. These small gifts have created a closer bond between us, and we felt more welcomed.

Meeting with the whole village of weavers even in a very short time and sharing stories with them was truly priceless. This is the closest moment for us to see clearly that most of the weavers in this village are middle age women and senior citizens. Some of these women do the weaving in dark rooms and most of them have very poor eye sights. We are truly amazed how they managed to create such amazing textile in these environments and conditions.

During the gathering, Mitsa Lutfia (a Connect Indonesia’s volunteer who visited Lombok with me on this occasion) and I could hardly contain ourselves from digging into many piles of textiles own collectively by the weavers.  The textile was so colour and beautiful and very hard to resist.  We did end up with a few songket to take home, a wise decision as prices in the weaving villages are a bit cheaper than buying them in the weaving centre in the cities.

Everyone was so happy with the glasses donation, and this provides us with a lot of excitement that our weavers do need support and are elated with any gifts like these glasses to help them work better.

Our sincere gratitude to Mitsa Lutfia who had volunteered to accompany me to Lombok to help with our research and glasses distribution here, thank you, Fifi. We are also very grateful to our driver who had helped us with bits of translation, as some of the people there did not understand our Indonesian dialect. Bless him. Thank you, Dika.

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