About 30 km south of Solo lies the small town of Pedan. Like many places in Indonesia, this small sub-regency is famous for a speciality. In Pedan’s case it is hand woven fabric, in Indonesia called tenun.
In the olden days the back alleys of this pleasant town were alive with the clack clack clack of the flying shuttles and the beating reeds of the looms. But with the New Order regime under President Suharto in the mid 1960’s, rapid mechanization led to the demise of most of these small workshops, and the workers joined factories or sought other more lucrative employment. However one or two survive until this day.
White natural heavy cotton
Grey pastel coloured heavy cotton
Light weight white cotton
Pak Rahmad was an interesting old character. Born in Pedan some 90 years ago, he learnt the trade of hand loom. When he was a young man, he shifted to Bali, and lived there for almost 10 years. But eventually, his business went bust, and he returned to his hometown in Pedan in 1960.
A tenun handloom
Machine for winding warp thread
He set up a new handloom factory, and because he was familiar with foreigners, rapidly built up a thriving business. He also found a new religion. Although born a Muslim, he converted to Christianity, and then built a church in Pedan. This was quite a astonishing, and somewhat dangerous move as the predominantly Islamic community severely condemned such an act. But Pak Rahmad was true to his staunch beliefs right until his death 2 years ago.
Like most business, Pak Rahmad’s has has it’s ups and downs. The factory is now run by his children, and they make a wide range of hand woven products. These include special songket material for the Solo royal palaces, lurik cotton for the jackets of Solo’s parking attendants, handloom material for curtains, lampshades and cushion covers, scarves and shawls, handwoven rugs and much more.
Handwoven cotton scarves
The workers in his factory are mainly the elderly wives of farmers, who supplinent their husbands’ meagre income by weaving. Their work, while not highly paid, provides free meals and an important social community for them.
Me and my new girl friends
They are proud of their highly skilled work, and it is amazing to see their fingers fly as they operate their handlooms at an astonishing, pace. All done by human power; there are no motors involved in the loom process.
Lurik striped cotton fabric
Lurik dress and shirt material
The workshop can take special orders, and make various patterns and motives for a range of products, click here :