“In my opinion, the co-creation products are a success. I’m really happy that Abus has adapted to natural-dye colour, and I’m sure the market’s acceptance in this product, as well as in the future.” ── Myra Widiono, Indonesian fashion designer
“Despite the language barrier, we could understand the problem Myra tried to express just by listening to her. Our community and textile culture were different, so the stories behind the works were very important to us, and interaction helped us to know what we were doing.”—Abus, Abus Bunun Ramie and Traditional Clothing Studio
Designer and Craft Community
Myra Widiono is the founder of Rumah Rakuji, described as a shelter of art culture, and craft. She is also the Chairperson of WARLAMI (the Indonesian Natural Dye and Fiber Organisation). Throughout her years of experience, Myra has supported artisans in the various hinterlands of the vast Indonesian archipelago, promoting programs to improve the design and quality of their products as well as supporting connectivity for these artisans in remote areas. She has worked extensively with artisans in East Kalimantan of Borneo in developing ulap doyo, taking a natural fiber textile (made from Curculigo latifolia) used in traditional garments and renewing this for a wider audience. She has also taken the use of bemban (Donnax caniformis) used by artisans in West Kalimantan to make fashion accessory products. Both these efforts have culminated in awards such as the World Crafts Council Awards of Excellence.
Located in Huadong Valley, Taitung, Abus Bunun Ramie and Traditional Clothing Studio is started when Ms. Abus returned to her hometown to rediscover and learn the Bunun traditional weaving and embroidery techniques. In the research journey of traditional craft techniques from planting to weaving, Ms. Abus feel the warmness from the mountain and forest and start planting her own ramie garden. She hopes to bit by bit pieced their culture together, and step by step promote and inherited it. With the vision of showing the wisdom and aesthetic inherited by Bunun people through the cultural materials, Ms. Abus also hopes that the culture can be preserved and passed on continually through her efforts.
In Bunun, Abus also means “weaving woman.” With a vision of restoring tribal crafts, Ms. Abus returned to her village in Taitung many years ago, to bit by bit rediscover the textile and garment crafts that had been lost for over 80 years. Indonesian fashion designer Myra Widiono, who worked on this co-creation project with her, not only specializes in the ramie weaving craft but is also the founder of the local natural dye association WARLAMI. Through the process of their co-creation, they not only exchanged natural dyeing and weaving techniques but also found the cultural connectivity between the indigenous peoples of Taiwan and Indonesia in terms of their use of totems. The “diamond” totem sewn on work
<Rhythm on Ramie> is the most important shape in the Indonesian tribe, which manifests the meaning of “togetherness;” in the Bunun culture, the diamond represents the spirit of the hundred-pace snake. In tribal legends, the Bunun ancestors were first fighting against hundred-pace snakes, but they eventually reached a truce and agreed that the diamond totem would be the symbol of friendship (Kaviath). In the pandemic age, from crafts cooperation to cultural exchange, the co-creation project not only has created for the designer and crafter their first experience that transcended borders and languages but also given rise to a new friendship.
FIBER CO-CREATED PRODUCTS
〈Rhythm on Ramie〉
The <Rhythm on Ramie> collection includes two works, a “scarf” and a home decorative piece that can be used as a “bed-runner” or “wall hanging.”
As the founder of the Natural Dye Association of Indonesia WARLAMI, Myra’s insistence on natural dyes pushed Ms. Abus to carry out some new attempts. Although they eventually had to compromise and used a tiny bit of white thread dyed with chemical dyes, the project already helped Abus Bunun Ramie Association to take a huge stride forward in terms of dyes. As for weaving technique, Ms. Abus thought it would be a simple work of flat weaving when she first saw the design, only to discover that Indonesian and Taiwanese techniques were completely different. To achieve the requirements of the design, she asked many crafters from different tribes, such as Atayal, Paiwan, and Amis, for help.
“Exploring while creating” is the daily life of many crafters, and techniques constantly disappear with the passing of time or older crafters. However, the language of weaving sees no borders, and perhaps the international exchange during this co-creation project is a great way of rediscovering lost arts.
Hi! Myra Widiono, founder of Rumah Rakuji, Indonesian fashion designer!
Abus Bunun Ramie and Traditional Clothing Studio
Hi! I am Abus, founder of Abus Bunun Ramie Association!