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Creating a woven handicraft is not an easy task. Although its shape looks simple, but it takes perseverance depth in each process. Not only proficient, but must also be neat and well patterned. A few months ago, I saw for myself how complicated it is to make Borneo handicrafts – in one of the areas in West Kalimantan.
Silit Village – that is the area that is full of activities to make wicker crafts. The location of Silit village is to the east of the capital of Sepauk sub-district. Silit Village is located in the hinterland of West Kalimantan. Surely, the location is very remote because it must pass through several villages and an extensive palm oil area before arriving there.
The journey to the village of Silit is quite time consuming. This is because road access is damaged and has not been asphalted. The order is like this: From Pontianak, we have to take another plane for about 40 minutes to Susilo Airport in Sintang district. After that we have to rent a 4×4 vehicle to get to the village of silit. Not all four-wheeled vehicles are able to pass through the streets to get there. In addition to the uphill track, the average road to get there is a yellow soil that is easily muddy if exposed to rain. From susilo airport to the village of silit takes approximately 3 hours trip if the summer. But if the rainy season, the travel time will be longer. Especially if the car often skid half way because most of the road muddy. The journey is indeed tiring. But once it reaches the destination it turns into something fun. Silit village location surrounded by green and beautiful hills. The forests are dense; overgrown with large and tall trees. The rivers flow clear.
Along the way, the driver tells about the livelihood of the Seberuang Dayak tribe who inhabit Silit village. It is said, they like to hunt and farm in various places in the forest. But the activity was finally stopped by the government because it is considered damaging the forest ecosystem. Silit villagers still adhere to their customs. Rituals Kikir Gigi which aims as a marker for girls who step on the adult is still often done at certain times. And to every guest that they consider important to their presence, they also still use the customary reception ceremony which is popular since time immemorial
Woven – Borneo Handicraft Preserved in Silit Village
After more than three hours of travel we finally arrived at the destination. Elder customs and dozens of residents welcomed us with great hospitality. Then the elders perform a kind of welcome ritual while reading the spells in the local language. At first I did not understand the meaning of the mantra’s pronunciation. But after explained by indigenous elders in Indonesian I know little meaning.
The most interesting thing in the village of Silit is the sight of mothers who are making handicrafts. They use basic materials such as bamboo and pandanus forest or commonly known as leaf perupuk. The materials commonly found in the banks of the river up to the villages.
Out of curiosity, I approached a woman craftsman who was about 50 years old. Although her Indonesian is not fluent but she is able to answer all questions. According to the woman, the manufacture of this craft was once for everyday purposes.
They turn it into a mat, Takin (bag like a backpack), Cupai (waist bag) and Tanggui (hat). There are also made capan or container to winnow rice and fishing gear (bubu). To catch fish in the traditional way (mansai), they also make ‘pemansai’ from rattan.
Because the wicker craft is interesting shape, some tourists who visit always buy as a souvenir. Even guests order some kind of craft for business in town. In order not to be out of date the craftsmen are innovating. Their work is affixed with a distinctive motif of Dayak tribe so it looks more beautiful and unique. This motif makes the Dayak woven craft more attractive.
Elder custom also provides information about the history of making Borneo webbing craft world wide. Based on the statement, the making of woven crafts in Silit village became more coordinated since they cooperated with Kapuas Raya University. A group of natural lover students are making an industrial house for wicker crafts.
For the Dayak Seberuang, woven handicraft production is more than just the culture of Borneo. But it also has profound meaning implied during the process. According to the explanation of traditional chairman, the making of woven craft is a religious manifestation. Each process contains elements of art that are closely related to the beliefs of the Dayak tribe. Therefore, their woven products are very smooth and beautiful.
Woven motif from Borneo – Unlimited Ethnic Charm
Speaking of woven motifs, Dayaks are able to create unique patterns. Such as handicraft mat; mostly patterned chessboard. But the artisans of the Dayak tribe is not pegged to the motive alone. They innovate by creating a separate pattern, such as pancar walu, daun melancar and gigi haruan
The typical woven mats of Borneo are called rattan sheets – made handmade. Even so the pedestal is very neat and strong. Each side is covered with rattan skin, namely bamboo walut (eel). Called like that, because along the edge of the patterned lampit resembles an eel. In addition to these motives, there are also some patterns that symbolize humans, flowers, fruits or animals. This pattern is not only used for rattan sheets but also on craft bags and displays.
Batang garing – shaped tree – is the most beautiful and sacred motif than any other. It is said that the Dayak tribe of Kaharingan trust the tree as a source of life. Unfortunately in the village of Silit very rarely make a craft with the motive. Even if there are only made in small quantities. Well, that’s a glimpse of my travel story when tracing the process of making Borneo handicrafts made from wicker. Hope it inspires!