Gringsing kain from Tenganan Village, West Bali (Photo by Murni Ridha)

Rejecting Misfortune with Gringsing

Beyond the simple colours of Balinese weavings

Left: Bali Aga traditional house in Tenganan (Photo by Nurdiyansah Dalidjo) | Right: welcome sign at the village entrance (Photo by Murni Ridha)

The Origins of Gringsing

Desa Tenganan Dauh Tukad is located on the west side of Bali in the Karangasem regency. The village pales in comparison to Desa Tenganan, which is more of a tourist destination, but Ibu Mia had specifically directed me here because of its lack of tourists. Bli Wayan, my guide around the village, said that most people were out farming or otherwise staying in their homes. It’s hot out here, he said. Better stay indoors.

Members of the Bali Aga community in Tenganan prepare for a village cleansing ceremony (Photo by Nurdiyansah Dalidjo)
Left: Bli Wayan shows gringsing fabric | Centre: Close-up of gringsing | Right: The resist-dyed thread used in double ikat weaving (Photos by Murni Ridha)

The Double-Ikat Technique

Bli Wayan’s wife sat down and prepared the back strap that connects to the weaving loom and keeps the fabric in place throughout the weaving process. Within the loom I saw the beginnings of a brick-colored scarf with a black-and-yellow motif. My first impression was that the fabric wasn’t anything special, just a simple pattern using old-fashioned colors.

Setting up the loom for weaving gringsing cloth (Photo by Murni Ridha)
Bli Wayan’s wife weaving gringsing cloth (Photo by Murni Ridha)
Left: undyed cotton yarn | Right: strands of naturally-dyed yarn used in gringsing fabric (Photos by Nurdiyansah Dalidjo)

Rejecting Misfortune

I felt goosebumps when Bli Wayan said “wormy.” If nobody wants to take on this task, then why would they still use organic dyeing methods?

“Only by using the organic methods can we reject misfortune,” he said.

The word gringsing stems from local words: gring means ‘ill’ and sing means ‘well’. So the thread is believed to reject sickness and misfortunes.

The weaving of gringsing cloth (Photo by Murni Ridha)
Photograph of a young girl wearing gringsing cloth as a chest-wrap (Photo by Murni Ridha)
A group of teenage girls at a ceremony in Tenganan (Photo by Nurdiyansah Dalidjo)
Flower offerings dedicated to gods or goddesses and ancestors. (Photo by Nurdiyansah Dalidjo)

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Telling stories through the indigenous and traditional textiles of Indonesia.

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Kain Kita (Kain by Indonesia)

Telling stories through the indigenous and traditional textiles of Indonesia.