Bahasa Indonesia

Traditional weaving technique in Pandaisikek

By: Adyan Anwar

May 2011

The setup of a frame loom:

- the frame, called panta with a seat at the back where the weaver sits during work, and a pair of movable receptacles at the sides.
- the warp beam
- the roller to hold the woven textile, called paso
- karok, a pair of haddles, with pedals to operate
- the suri for beating the weft yarn against the woven part of textile
- tandayan, a beam overhead where the heddles and suri are hung

Preparation of material

- silk or cotton warp thread in warp beam. In Indonesian, this is commonly called lungsin
- weft material of cotton, linen, silk, called pakan.
- and gold metallic thread locally called makau for creating the patterns or motifs.

These materials are available at the market in Koto Baru, 2km north of Pandaisikek, on Tuesdays. There is a vendor from the weaving center in Silungkang, who come to the market weekly on Tuesdays. She sells all the materials and smaller tools and accessories of the loom needed by the weavers in Pandaisikek. When the market is over at noon, she makes a round visiting weaving centers in Pandaisikek delivering materials and taking orders for the next Thursday.

Warp threads are available as supplies, warp around a wooden beam, just enough number of threads for the intended width of textile, enough length for several pieces of songkets. These warp threads need to be inserted into a new suri, two consecutive threads at a time, into the space between the reeds. Each of these two threads need to be separated, di-kress, so that each will go into either one of the set of heddles set behind the suri.

If the warp is to used in a suri set that has been previously used to weave a sarong or scarf, the threads are just joined into the ends of the warp threads left over from the previous warp supply, strictly observing the rule of kress separation. This is a process universally called mauleh, and is generally performed by a few women in Pandaisikek specializing in this skill. Alternatively, the material vendor in Koto Baru can provide the service.

Cotton and silk threads are sold in skeins or large bamboo spindles, and need to be transferred to small bamboo spindles about 8mm in diameter, so that they can be inserted into the shuttles, also made of bamboo.

Tools for transferring weft yarns from skeins to small spindles:

- kincia for spinning the spindles
- ulang aliang to hold the skeins
- daluang to hold the yarns temporarily
- small bamboo stick called kasali to hold the yarns for weaving sapasang.JPG

Tools used while weaving:

- a pointed bamboo stick called pancukie to create patterns.
- palapah, a wooden sword for lifting warp yarns as needed by pattern, about 6cm wide and longer than the width of the textile to be woven.
- for the weaving of a sarong, because of its width, a narrower palapah is needed. It is usually referred to as palapah pembantu.
- lidi, palm leave sticks for keeping the pattern paths
- turak, bamboo shuttles for carrying the thread spindles

Process of weaving

Prior to the daily grind of weaving, the weaver set the warp thread into the frame loom. The warp beam is inserted into movable slots on the sides of the loom, and the ends of the warp yarns are fastened into a grove at the roller set on the other end. The movable slots are pulled away from the roller to tighten the warp thread.

The first step of weaving involves the weaver in creating the first line of pattern path, picking up warp threads where the metal thread will show through and others where the metal thread will go under. It is a process called mancukie. The threads are picked up with a pointed bamboo stick called pancukie and lifted further behind the karok so that the shed is free for passage of turak carrying a spindle of metallic gold or silver thread.

The pass is marked by inserting a lidi far behind the karok for later retrieval.

This thread is beaten against a few centimeters of woven material usually left over prom previous use of the warp set, or woven just before creating the pattern path. The tool for beating is called suri, a set of metal reeds in a heavy frame hung from tandayan, a beam overhead. In the past, bamboo reeds is used instead of metal, and this kind of suri is called suri bamban. Suri bamban is regarded is superior in that the tool produced finer material and it can be used to weave silk warp.

The gold thread is followed by a pass of another shuttle carrying linen or silk thread. The path for this thread follows the simple alteration as set by the kress. The warp threads are lifted by stepping on on one of the pedals that pulls of the heddles downwards while the other heddle is retained by the strings attached to the beam overhead, thus creating a shed to accommodate the passage of the shuttle.

The weft thread is beaten against the previous gold thread, and the pair, one gold thread and one weft thread is a unit called a lidi.

Depending on the fineness of songket to be created, the process of one lidi is repeated, two, three, or four times, thus thickening the part of gold thread that shows through. This is a unit called tuhuak or a pattern line; thus a songket referred to as songket tuhuak duo is a weaving where the process of picking up pattern threads an insertion of weft thread plus the supplementary metal thread is repeated two times.

After one tuhuak is completed, the process is started over for the next pattern line. The weaver begins by creating a new path for the gold thread. She picks up thread using pancukie, concentrating on the picture in her mind on how the pattern will look when finished, or copying from a sample, inserts the gold thread, beats it against previously woven threads, inserts the ground weft material, and repeat over.

Pandaisikek songkets, and probably all of Minangkabau songkets, implements symmetrical patterns, like rhombus, flowers. Curls and zigzags are repeated as mirror images thus also work in symmetry. This is advantageous for the weaver as she needs to pick up threads for first half of the symmetry, keeps each path with a lid across the heddles. When the first half is finished, she retrieves the pattern from the lidis, one at a time, in reverse order in a process called manyuruikkan. Last in fist out.

There is a term for the combined phase, from mancukie to manyuruikkan. In terms of weaving progression, it is called a lubang. A lubang thus shows a series of whole patterns spread across the width of the songket, like a pattern band. Several bands make the body of the textile.

For sarongs, a section of songket, about the middle but closer to one end, the patterning is usually made thicker, with richer variations. This part is called the head, or kepala of the cloth, and it is here where the skill of the weaver is prominently exhibited. With selendangs, the heads are at the ends of the cloth.