natural dyeing - indigo blue


Sikka is a regency in the island of Flores, Nusa Tenggara province, Indonesia. The region takes pride in a fabric-making tradition, a hereditary heritage dating back before the 12th century known as Tenun Ikat Sikka (Sikka Handwoven Tie-Dyed Fabric).

The people of Sikka, Flores-Indonesia
Our Village, photo by Bastian AS
Wolowiro Village, courtesy of

Ikat from Sikka

Each handwoven fabric pattern features its own history and philosophy. Every motif of Tenun Ikat Sikka is a representation of certain spiritual and social values beyond culture and aesthetics. Recurring depictions of plants and animals in the motifs reflect the form of expression by ancestors who did not know how to write at the time. Each motif contains a strong meaning that should be chosen to reflect the wearer’s beliefs so as to enable him or she exudes an aura of positive energy.

The Characteristic and Quality

“Sikka Ikat Weaving,” known as“Pete Lorun(g) Sikka” in the local language used by people in the Sikka Regency of East Nusa Tenggara Province, Indonesia, is a product that has been developed and supported by the community since hundreds of years ago from generation to generation. This weaving is fabricated by using traditional looms (ATBM) which are done manually by means of hand-tied and with woven materials made of cotton or suter (factory yarn or self-spun yarn/traditional) then coloured with natural dyes without chemical dyes/naphthol.

Traditionally Sikka Ikat Tenun has the dominant colour of indigo black, arranged mostly with geometric decorations on the edges with small or large black lines as well as with several variations of motifs. In principle, Sikka Ikat Weaving only uses three colours, namely: black, blue and dark brown. Traditional weaving using self-spun cotton yarn and given natural dyes has the advantage of being more expensive and can be long for hundreds of years.

Sikka Ikat Weaving Motif is a representation of ethnicity, “magi” religious values, social culture aesthetic depicted with surrounding symbols in the form of plants and animals which are symbols and expressions of ancestors who at that time did not know the writing system. At present Sikka Ikat Weaving has been well-known by both domestic and international public because of its uniqueness.

The physical properties of Sikka Ikat Weaving based on the yarn used can be divided into two, namely:

  • Traditional spun yarn decomposed manually from cotton; have thick and rather rough physical characteristics;
  • Factory spun yarn that weavers commonly call shop yarn, has thin and delicate physical characteristics.

The physical properties of Sikka Ikat Weaving based on the dyes used are:

Natural dyes; the resulting colours are limited and not bright because of the use of natural dyes derived from roots, skin and leaves that are cultivated by weaver communities.

Chemical/factory dyes, the recommended type isNaphtol sold in stores, with unlimited colour characteristics and have brighter colour compared to natural dyes.

The protected product is the Sikka Ikat Weaving product which contains a variety of existing motifs in the form of:

  • Patan: a sheet of fabric that is still intact with the tassel (female)
  • Utan: cloth that has been sewn into a sarong (female). For men, a cloth that is still intact and has been sewn is called Lipa
  • Sembar: shawl shaped fabric
  • Lensu: cloth for head cover (male)

Sikka Ikat Weaving Production Process

The beauty found of Sikka Ikat Weaving is the result of a very complicated process and requires high accuracy in turning imaginations into the motif designs on the white yard frame. The colouring process is an art element in combining colors from a single colour and from a compound colour combination which is the combination of the parts of the coloured motif. This process is carried out repeatedly in order to produce beautiful colours.

The community of weavers has natural/inherited talents from their ancestors, so it is said that it is very difficult for people from outside Sikka to learn weaving skills as practiced by weavers in Sikka Regency.

The tools are made of wood and produced by local people themselves.

The following are several stages of the production process of Sikka Tie Weaving: