Oleh: Nurlaela Lamasitudju
In auditorium of the Radio Republik Indonesia (RRI) Building in Palu, 15 female weavers showed off their work with pride and confidence. One by one gedogan looms were introduced, as well as weaving work stages ranging from breaking down threads, binding motifs, coloring, to weaving activities smoothly told and displayed. Questions that arose were answered enthusiastically. Some wanted to know the history of weaving, the names of looms, the process of weaving, the experience of weavers, and various other stories. Conversations just flowed.
Three years ago, I first met them, weaving women in Limoyo Village. At that time, they had difficulty speaking to introduce themselves because of shyness. However, after several meetings, Sanaria (62) finally dared to speak. “Since I was younger, I have started weaving, taught by my mother. Only weaving can be a job. We are told that the children of ‘involved’ parents cannot be anything,” she said.
A similar story also came from a village not far from Limoyo, in the village of Labuan Panimba a similar story was told by Mariana (49). “I only reached first grade of junior high school, I could no longer continue school because Mama and Papa were detained. Every day they were obliged to report to the Koramil office. We had no money to pay for school. Not to mention a lot of stories from people saying that PKI’s seven generation children are not going to be anything. Since dropping out of school, I started to weave because I could make money. There is no need to use a diploma, “Mariana said.
For years Sanaria and Mariana continued to weave. Some fellow weavers have left the activity. They chose to work in the rattan company. The rarity of raw material for the yarn made some weavers switch professions. However, Sanaria and Mariana remained faithful in maintaining the weaving tradition. Even though during that time they were only weaving workers who relied on cloth traders who came to deliver yarn and wages that were far from sufficient.
On 21 April in the spirit of celebrating Kartini’s Day, a smile broke on the faces of the weavers. During the dialogue session, they introduced themselves without shyness. “I am Sanaria, weaving crafter.” Likewise, Yumi, Mastia, Kijaeni, Rosna, Kartini, Misna, Zuhra, Korsia, and Salma introduced themselves. At the end of the dialogue session, Mariana told me, “I used to be ashamed to be a victim’s child. Now I’m not ashamed anymore, I’m proud to be a weaving crafter. You can buy your own yarn. I can send my children to school from weaving.” Loud clapping sound was heard closing Mariana’s story.
Now, Mariana and Sanaria are the administrators of the Kumbaja Bomba women’s weaving group, which was formed three years ago with the Solidarity of Victims of Human Rights Violations (SKP-HAM) in Central Sulawesi. Bomba Kumbaja Group expands membership. Not only weavers, tailors also became members of up to 20 people. They develop woven fabrics into other products with higher selling value such as bags, pouches, wallets, and various other products.
They also start feeling the attention of the government. Assistance in the form of looms and various training was given. During the Kartini’s Day celebration in the RRI auditorium, visitors also showed various forms of support. Dharma Wanita RRI Palu and Dekranasda of Central Sulawesi Province even invited them to work together.
The women who used to have no self-confidence now become independent. Those who were stigmatized have now become powerful.