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Sign of ritual completion

Based on a Facebook post by David Richardson
Savu bunga wurumada

Bunga wurumada on Savu sarong.
Photo David Richardson, 2014.

One sometimes encounters zigzags in coarse white cotton thread at the head and foot of their warp ikat sarongs, the meaning of which, to our knowledge, has not been explained in literature. David Richardson came across a comment by Willy Kadati from the Bebali Foundation (Yayasan Pecinta Budaya Bebali) who had questioned Ina Hale, a weaver from Namata, about the meaning of this zigzag pattern. She called the stitching bunga wurumada, meaning 'flower of the delicate eyes’, wurumada, 'delicate eyes', being the term used to describe the set of narrow ikat bands at the top and bottom of the Savunese sarong.
     Once the textile has been woven the weaver must first sacrifice a chicken before attempting to transform the textile into a sarong. Once this ritual is completed, she can cut the warps, divide the cloth into two panels, join them and finally sew them into a tube skirt. By adding the bunga wurumada the weaver signifies that she has not only completed the sarong but has also performed the necessary associated rituals.
      Not yet clear is why the bunga wurumada is found only on some of the Savu sarongs that come to the international market. Could it be that they were removed by collectors or dealers who thought it a mere disfigurement, perhaps a thread that was once used to attached a label?

©Peter ten Hoopen, 2018. All rights reserved.