Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Hamilton, Roy W. “Supplementary Weft on an ‘Ikat’ Isle: The Weaving Communities of Northwestern Flores.” Contact, Crossover, Continuity: Proceedings of the Fourth Biennial Symposium of the Textile Society of America, September 22–24, 1994 (Los Angeles, CA: Textile Society of America, Inc., 1995), pp. 147–158.


Copyright © 1994 Roy W. Hamilton


Among textile enthusiasts, the island of Flores is known primarily for its beautiful warp-ikat cloths. Most of the island's numerous ethno-linguistic groups, including the Ngadha, Nage, Endenese, Lio, Palu'e, Sikkanese, and Lamaholot, produce related yet distinctive textiles within this tradition. It is therefore surprising to find a series of weaving districts, stretching along the northwest coast of the island, where the ikat technique is not used. Instead, weavers in this region produce indigo-dyed textiles decorated with colorful supplementary-weft motifs.

In the ikat districts, sarongs for men and women differ in their patterning and in the names applied to them. In the northwest, on the other hand, sarongs are "unisex" and are known consistently by the single term lipa. The looms of the northwest also differ from those of the ikat districts. Ikat weavers use a body-tension loom with a simple warp beam and a continuous, or "circular," warp. No reed is used, as the desired fabric is tightly warp-faced. In the supplementary-weft communities, the warp beam consists of a flat plank set into upright posts. The warp forms a single flat layer, with its length wound onto the plank. A reed is used to produce a balanced weave. The weaver usually sits on the ground like an ikat weaver, but in one community I have seen a bench fixed to a rigid frame that also supports the warp beam.