fig. Tech 4.1 A weaver uses the cross in the warp to retain the order of the warp yarns. Silindung Valley. 1980. She counts the yarns at the cross with her left hand and inserts rods with her right. The rods collect the warp yarns that will be ikat-dyed in a similar fashion.

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Sandra Niessen - "Back to the villages" - donations

In June 2010, I returned to North Sumatra, to visit the villages, weavers and others that I met during my fieldwork for Legacy in cloth, Batak textiles of Indonesia. I had fulfilled my obligations to museums and archives who had requested a copy of Legacy for copyright purposes, but I felt this obligation even more strongly towards the weavers, even though they gave their knowledge to me freely and graciously with no counter-demands. The project, dubbed Back to the Villages, was developed to bring the book to North Sumatra and designed to be a celebration of thanks to Batak weavers, so that they may feel pride for their extraordinary talents and skills.

Some people, when they heard about the project, donated to it spontaneously. They gave me the idea of a North-South partnership, one of my favourite components of the project. Donation to the project raised awareness of the importance of supporting indigenous culture. It nurtured participation. The statistics pertaining to the loss and decline of indigenous culture are more than worrisome. Batak weaving is part of our global, universal, cultural inheritance, an amazing tradition for all of us to treasure. If Batak textiles have a future, it will be because they find their way to markets that are outside the Batak area.

In the end, all the books that I gave away in North Sumatra were donations by those who believed enough in the project to support it. Many donors gave me their photograph and a message which I was able to give to the recipient of the book when I explained the donor’s role in the project.

The following people donated to the project:
Nancy Milks Evans
Colleen Flood
Irene Khng
Mary Jane Leland
Sineke de Vries and Dirk van Uitert
Thomas Murray
Pamela Cross
Sanggar Kreasi Batak
Anonymous Donors (2)
Mary-Lynne Campbell
Silvia Corral
Helmy de Korver
Marie-Cécile Pulles
Jan Hofstede
Norma Niessen
The Soroptimists of Arnhem
Tim Babcock
Heather Wilson
Ria Tobing
Wendela ter Horst
Kian Tjong and Jim de Seve
Lily and Andrew Wang
Shuichi Nagata
Sandra Sardjono
Henk and Margot van Dalen
Indonesian Heritage Society
Museum Volkenkunde, Leiden
Loan Oei

For feedback on book gifts as they happened see Back to the Villages blogs

For the inspiration behind the idea of returning the Batak textile legacy to Batak weavers see:     Back to the Villages – Celebrating Cultural Legacy and Exploring Magic in Batak textiles