Tribal Weaving of the Lesser Sunda Islands

Tribal Weaving of the Lesser Sunda Islands

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The diverse Lesser Sunda Islands, stretching eastwards from Bali, offer the most amazing landscapes and a glorious cornucopia of weaving for textile lovers. Here women not only continue to make their traditional cloth on back-tension looms but continue to wear it as well. There is kaleidoscopic variety of patterns and designs – every region of every island has its own unique textile culture, its own style of dress, and its own motifs. Together we will explore the extraordinary ancestral traditions of these islands where textiles are the predominant form of artistic expression, still playing a central role in every significant stage of life, especially marriage and death. Some islanders tell us, “Without cloth we cannot marry.”

However, change is underway in even the remotest villages, and weavers are no longer passing on their skills to the next generation. With this cruise, we will be given a unique opportunity to witness a dying art form before it is gone forever.

We will enjoy the luxury of cruising effortlessly from island to island, crossing a rugged, isolated region where travel by land can be difficult. Our graceful pinisi schooner, the Ombak Putih, offers us access to villages and beaches that would otherwise be almost impossible to reach. Along the way there will be time to enjoy the amazing volcanic scenery, meet the villagers, visit traditional markets, buy local textiles, swim and snorkel over psychedelic coral reefs, relax and have fun. This is a fantastic, adventurous way to travel, providing memories that guests will treasure for the rest of their lives.

Our British expert textile guides, David and Sue Richardson, look forward to introducing guests to each island, its people and its culture, while sharing their knowledge on the day-to-day excursions as well as through a series of evening talks.

Please Note: The price of this cruise does not include any domestic airfares to and from our start and end points. If you are booking by yourself, please check with us first to find out the best routes to take, and to ensure that you arrive at your destination with plenty of time to spare. Except for Bali, transfers to and from local airports to the boat are also included.

Trip Name
Tribal Weaving of the Lesser Sunda Islands
Vessel Type: Yacht Length overall: 42 metres Passanger Capasity: 24 Led by Captain Jufri, with a crew of 14, Ombak Putih means ‘White Wave’ in the Indonesian language. Her keel was first laid down in Kalimantan in 1995, and she became operational in 1997. At 42 metres long, she is the larger of our two ships, providing accommodation for up to 24 guests in 12 comfortable cabins. Approximately 400 square metres of public space is divided over her two main decks, including a large salon, as well as covered and open areas, allowing plenty of room for our guests to spread out, relax, and enjoy as much company or solitude as they wish. Twelve superior cabins en-suite bathrooms, Salon & bar.Outdoor covered dining area, Rooftop lounge. Kayaks, Stand,up-paddle boards (SUP). Snorkelling equipment. Fishing gear, Three tender boats. Full complement of crew; engineering and service. SLEEPING CONFIGURATION 6 x double bed cabins 2 x triple cabins (one double bed and one upper single bunk - bunk ideally suitable for child 12 or under) 4 x twin bunk cabins (one above the other)


Day 1 - Day 1 - Maumere
After arriving on the morning flight (own cost) from Denpasar to Maumere via Waingapu you will be met at the airport and transferred to Maumere harbour to board the Ombak Putih in time for lunch. After everyone has settled in their cabins there will be a safety briefing while we sail out into the beautiful Bay of Maumere with the extinct volcano of Ile Kimang in the background. We will dock at a nearby fishing village, built over the water on stilts, where we will experience the life of the local Bugis and Bajao sea gypsies. In the evening we will relax over cocktails while David and Sue give an introductory talk about the culture and textiles of the local Sikka region before enjoying a welcome dinner on deck.
Day 2 - Day 2 - Maumere & Ledalero
We will disembark at Maumere for a short drive to a busy market, where the vendors sell local ikat and a variety of weaving supplies. We will then drive up into the scenic Iwang Geté highlands to visit a small village where we will be welcomed with music and dancing. After gaining our first insights into the local techniques of spinning, binding, dyeing and weaving, we will have the opportunity to purchase some of the finished textiles. The adventurous among us will be able to try betel nut, tobacco and locally distilled liquor. After lunch on board we will head out to a village inhabited by refugees from the island of Palu’e off the coast of Flores, who were forced to leave their island following a series of volcanic eruptions. We will have a demonstration of how they produce their distinctive textiles.
Day 3 - Day 3 - Larantuka & Adonara Island
This morning we will pass Larantuka, situated at the foot of the imposing Ile Mandiri volcano, before mooring in a quiet bay for breakfast. As we go ashore, we will be welcomed by local Lamaholot villagers who will show us in detail how they produce their fantastic earthy-brown ikats decorated with small white seashells. We will then be guided around this colourful well-kept village before returning to the Ombak Putih for lunch. After lunch we will sail to some small islands close to the northeast coast of Adonara Island for swimming, snorkelling and beachcombing. We will moor nearby overnight.
Day 4 - Day 4 - Lembata & Jontona
Today we will arrive in Lembata and drop anchor on the north coast below the towering active volcano of Ile Api. We will go ashore to see some of the superb ikat textiles produced in this region, while meeting weavers from at least three neighbouring villages. After a formal welcome and demonstration of local weaving techniques there will be a selling exhibition of textiles, giving you the chance to add a fabulous bridewealth cloth to your collection. Guests will also be invited to see an ancient anthropomorphic rock painting in a nearby village. Later, during lunch, the boat will cruise across Waienga Bay to another small rarely visited weaving village and a nearby location for a refreshing swim or snorkel.
Day 5 - Day 5 - Ternate Island
After arriving in the Pantar Strait we will make an early start, first visiting the village of Uma Pura on Ternate Island. On this small volcanic island we will discover how they make around 200 different natural dyes, using ingredients such as sea sponges, sea anemones and the ink of sea hares. There will be displays of textiles everywhere and we will also be shown how they weave huge fish traps from bamboo. Back on board we will have lunch while sailing into Kalabahi Bay before docking at the harbour of the capital of Alor Island. A short drive takes us to a village inhabited by the colourful Abui - Melanesian people who speak a Papuan language. We will be invited to join in the hypnotic lego-lego dance before shopping for textiles, baskets and jewellery at a small pop-up market. Alor is ethnically diverse, so we will return via the Kalabahi Museum to see their fine display of textiles and moko drums from across the island.
Day 6 - Day 6 - Alor
Over breakfast we sail around the western tip of Alor to a long sandy beach overlooking Tereweng and Pantar Islands. Here we can swim and snorkel from the beach or relax and beachcomb. Back on the Ombak Putih for lunch as we cross over to a small Christian coastal village on Pantar Island, where we will receive a rapturous welcome and will be entertained with music and dancing, including of course the important lego-lego dance.
Day 7 - Day 7 - Lamalera
As we wake we will be approaching the fascinating whaling village of Lamalera, on the southern side of Lembata, watching some of the boats heading out to sea. We land on the beach in front of a row of 30 whaleboat sheds and are escorted into the village clearing by local schoolchildren. After a welcome by the kepala desa, we will be entertained by dance performances and shown demonstrations of local dyeing and weaving. Many textiles and other artefacts will be available to buy. We then go to the upper village to visit the school and the massive Catholic church, getting excellent views of the boatsheds as we descend. After we return to the ship, the local whalers will put on a demonstration of how they harpoon whales from their tiny sailboats. Lunch will be served as we begin our long overnight sail to the beautiful non-volcanic island of Savu.
Day 8 - Day 8 - Savu
After breakfast we go ashore at Napae Bay, following in the footsteps of Captain Cook who landed HMS Endeavour on the same beach in 1770. We will witness a cleansing ceremony before being welcomed by ikat-clad horsemen showing us their riding skills. A short drive takes us to Namata, the most important ritual centre on Savu, where we will visit the sacred enclosure of priests of the ‘Jingi Tiu’ religion, containing the largest grouping of megaliths on the island. After lunch on board the Ombak Putih we will return ashore. A very scenic drive in the school bus takes us to Mesara in west Savu to visit the spectacular hamlet of Ledetadu, where local weavers will welcome us and show us how they still make their beautifully traditional naturally dyed cloths. The men will show us how they climb the tall lontar palms to tap their delicious juice. We are usually accompanied by Geneviève Duggan, the world expert on Savunese culture and textiles, who gives us many insights into why textiles lie at the heart of Savunese culture.
Day 9 - Day 9 - Raijua
Weather permitting we will approach the small neighbouring island of Raijua under sail. After disembarking at the harbour we will take a short drive to the fenced enclosure of Udju Dima, the residence of the Rajas of Raijua since at least the early nineteenth century. After a formal welcome we will be entertained by local dancers clad in traditional costume and be shown the range of textiles used on the island. From there we visit the home of one of the island’s top indigo dyers, who will show us how her family make a range of indigo textiles unique to this island. After lunch back on board the Ombak Putih there will be an opportunity to swim or snorkel from one of the island’s pristine sandy beaches.
Day 10 - Day 10 - Sumba Island
We will go ashore on Sumba Island and visit two amazing but quite different royal villages, each with megalithic graves surrounded by tall traditional thatched houses.- We will meet members of the two local royal families and see how they make some of the finest textiles to be found on the island, using the techniques of supplementary warp and warp ikat - sometimes even combining both techniques in one textile.- We return to the Ombak Putih for lunch while we sail north, stopping at a local beach for a late afternoon swim and snorkel.
Day 11 - Day 11 - To Rinca
Today we will drive to a rarely visited weaving village and be greeted by ikat-clad warriors on horseback. Sitting in the shade on the veranda of a traditional house we are welcomed by the entire village and entertained with traditional dances that are still used to welcome important visitors and were used in the past to welcome the warriors back from their headhunting expeditions.- Textiles will be hanging everywhere and we will be offered a huge array of jewellery, statues, boxes, baskets and other crafts.- Tonight, as we cruise north, you are invited to dress lavishly in your finest ikat cloths for our farewell dinner party with the captain and crew, who will entertain us on deck with traditional Indonesian song and dance.
Day 12 - Day 12 - Rinca or Komodo (Flores)
Today is a day for Komodo Dragons, as we go ashore for a short trek with park rangers to see these ancient lizards in their natural habitat.- Back on board we will cruise to a nearby island in the Komodo National Park for our final snorkel before heading into port, having lunch along the way, before saying goodbye to our crew and being escorted to the airport for our onward journey (own cost).
Day 13 - Please Note:
Every effort will be made to carry out our cruise itinerary as planned; however, our itineraries are subject to change at the captain’s discretion. When touring at sea, weather, currents, and even harbour masters don’t always co-operate with our planned itinerary, which sometimes make our planned schedules challenging or even impossible to carry out. For that reason, our written itineraries must be approached with reasonable flexibility. We reserve the right to make alterations due to circumstances beyond our control and/or other factors, in the best interests of all. It’s all part of the adventure.

Trip Dates

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    • Explore the extraordinary ancestral traditions of Lesser Sunda Islands where textiles are the predominant form of artistic expression, still playing a central role in every significant stage of life, especially marriage and death
    • Enjoy the luxury of cruising effortlessly from island to island, crossing a rugged, isolated region where travel is normally a tough logistical nightmare
    • Enjoy the amazing volcanic scenery, meet local villagers, visit traditional markets, buy local textiles, swim and snorkel over pristine coral, relax and have fun