Healing Traditions, The Textiles of Helong, Timor.

December 14, 2021

Discover the Healing Traditions of Textiles of Helong, Timor.

Our latest purpose driven collaboration with social enterprise and Indonesian textile experts Threads of Life is here.
Bringing you One of a Kind versatile hand loomed and 100% sustainable collectible pieces for you and your home.

“At its heart, the traditional textile art articulates a set of values that place mutual support over personal profit, and respect for nature over exploitation. In the face of globalisation, the voice of these traditions becomes as valuable to us as it is to their custodians as we all seek a more sustainable future.”
Limited Edition Futu bag

In Timor, textiles are used for almost all rituals: they are among the principle gifts made by the bride's family during marriage rites, they enshroud the dead, and they function as important ritual objects in rites as varied as roof raising and rice planting ceremonies. Traditionally bright and colourful, 100% natural and sustainably hand made. Each piece is authentic, rare purpose driven to preserve traditional arts and safe keep indigenous wisdom.

Weavers of West Timor.

As the final link in the Sunda island chain in Indonesia,  Timor has been the end point for countless migrations. Entire populations, nudged along from island to island by conflict or disaster, arrived in trickles or floods, keeping Timor’s ethnic and political geography in constant upheaval. Kingdoms rose and fell within generations. Ethnic groups scattered from their lands, set up new villages, and sustained their cultures with remarkable resilience. Today, many of Timor’s traditional cultures are largely untied to an ethnic homeland or cultural centre. Instead, villages that share a common identity and history may be spread over a large area, interspersed with various other groups.

Textiles are central to maintaining that identity. Timorese textiles are filled with tiny but significant variations that identify the wearer’s kingdom, clan, rank, marital status, and more. These messages are coded in colour, structure, motif, fringing, decorative technique, and a myriad other details. Each one of Timor’s thousands of distinct groups can be identified by its unique textiles. Today, inter-group conflict has all but disappeared, projecting group affiliation has become less important, and many of these textiles have become rare.

Beti Naek ThrowWoven Rosina Sasi, Timor.
Naturally dyed and tied threads ready for looming. each stage is a meticulous labour of love. Some Ikat textiles taking up to a year to make.

Threads of Life first began exploring the Helong region in 2006 at the southwestern tip of Timor, near the capital city of Kupang.
The Helong people are the oldest surviving inhabitants of the Kupang region, with their own language and culture distinct from neighbouring groups. Over the past few centuries, the expansion of nearby kingdoms, particularly Amarasi, has slowly pushed the Helong people further towards the island’s tip, and onto the island of Semau at the mouth of Kupang Bay.

Local Timorese wearing a shoulder cloth "Selendang" Ikat. Her mouth is red after chewing the local betel nut, a local tradition.
The Meo warrior weekend bag, a textile from West Timor symbolising Interconnection.


“No one exists in isolation. We are connected to parents, to teachers, to friends. We are also linked to people who we have never met: who harvest and distribute our food, manufacture our clothing, write our books and shape our thinking – in fact we are connected to everyone whose efforts help hold together the fabric of society”.

We believe in quality over quantity, bringing you real stories and collectors items to support ancient traditions and indigenous wisdom that is devastatingly being lost. Together with Threads of Life our mission is to preserve these threads and techniques whilst supporting vulnerable communities in some of the remotest islands in the world.

To download our catalogue or learn more discover here:

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