A small textile that connects “Netherlands-Toraja-Japan”

–In memory of the late Bunga Yohanis– by Keiko Kusakabe, July 4, 2014

In 1999, a Torajan group was invited to introduce cultures such as dance, song and textiles to the annual Indonesian festival “Pasar Malam” held in The Hague, the Netherlands. Among them, Papa’Eka (Bunga Yohanis), who later became the owner of Rantepao’s textile workshop “Toko Todi”.

On the night of the festival, a Dutch man visited Papa Eka, handed him a small woven fabric (Photo 1) woven with a card, and left without telling his name. Papa Eka returned to Toraja, took a picture of it, and then gave it to me when I visited Toraja. The tiny narrow fabric, with its three-color insertion technique on a single card, undoubtedly showed a complex Toraja pattern system. Looking at this picture, I learned for the first time that there are people in the Netherlands studying Toraja’s card weaving. That led to my two visits to Amsterdam and the opportunity to join the circle of exchanges in card weaving research between Indonesia and Europe.

Very unfortunately, Papa Eka suddenly collapsed in Bali on September 26th last year (2014) and became a man who never returned. He came to Japan in 1998 and introduced Toraja’s Ikat at the “Toraja’s Cloth Exhibition” held at the Cattle Museum in Oshu City, Iwate Prefecture (at that time, Maesawaku Town) (Photo 2). His achievements include the establishment of an Ikat workshop in Rantepao, a tourism mecca in Sulawesi, Indonesia, by gathering weavers from the Kalumpang region of West Sulawesi, and putting the Ikat production of Torajan textiles and Kalumpang on a commercial basis in a guild manner. It was developed and made known to the world. We regret the death of the person who marked the era of Toraja dyeing and mourn, and express our condolences here (Kusakabe).

* “Papa Eka” means Eka’s father. In Toraja, when they get married and have children, their parents are called by the name of their first child. Such a naming practice is called technonymy in social anthropology.

Source: http://torajatextilearts.world.coocan.jp/memorial.html

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