Threshing and Weaving in Sideman…

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Rice HarvestingThe thing I love about Sideman, is there is always something happening, particularly in the fields.  Sideman is a large agricultural area, famous for it’s stunning rice terraces. However, they also grow vegetables, chilli, and harvest cloves.  Sideman is also the home of beautiful Songket Weaving…
 
 

They are smart and efficient farmers here, and rotate their crops to keep the land fertile and income coming in.  Once rice is harvested, they turn the soil over, plant a crop of vegetables, and then mulch with the cut rice stalks.  Nothing is wasted.  Once the vegetables are harvested, they plant rice again…

They work incredibly hard.  From around 7.30am to 6.30pm when it gets dark, they toil, day in day out.  Today there were farmers ploughing with oxen and a wooden plough…in the next patch they were using a petrol rotary hoe…and below us there was a group of four men hoeing by hand, and women threshing rice. All this easily seen from our balcony – who needs TV or a book when there is so much more interesting things to watch right in front of you!

 Working in the fields

Watching their activity every day, seeing how they work their land, how methodical they are really makes you appreciate exactly what is involved in bringing food to your table…to your supermarket.  We rock up to the supermarket and buy a packet of rice, never giving any thought as to how it got there…it’s just there…pick it up, pay for it….

And so, on the afternoon we got back from exploring sacred places, we saw that the women were still working on a patch of rice that they had started at 7.30am that morning.  They were just about finished and I wanted to ‘have a go’ at rice threshing…why?  Because it’s right there on my doorstep and I love trying new things…

So we headed down through the uneven rice terraces to “give them a hand” – more like get in their way!  Anyway, they let us do some and I have to say, it was so much fun!

Rice Thrashing

As I was bashing the rice heads against the table, I thought “wow, this is great therapy!”  If you are angry with anyone or anything, you just bash the hell out of the rice and all that emotion would evaporate…no wonder they are so happy!

Rice Therapy

Rice Therapy 🙂

Once all the threshing is done, they gather up the rice, which is collected on a tarpaulin under the threshing table and put it into sacks.  These sacks weigh around 20kg each.  Then they lift a sack onto their head and climb back up the terraces to the top and on home…they are incredibly strong…all I could do was shake my head at their flexibility and strength, it just blows me away.

Collecting Rice

Incredibly Strong

Of course, this is just the first part of the rice process…next is drying it in the sun and then it’s probably sent elsewhere for bleaching or whatever next step is…

One of the women then had the threshing table put on her head and proceeded to climb up the terraces to the new patch for tomorrow.  Brent offered to do it for her but she wouldn’t hear of it….they do this every day.

Table Carrying

I just love the Sideman countryside…here are some more of my favourite pics showing the life of these beautiful people…

Cleaning up rice stalks

Cleaning up the rice stalks…that’s a very large and very sharp sickle she’s got there!

Mulching

Mulching

Smoko Time

Smoko Time

 Working Fields

Working Fields

Working Fields

Picking Chilli

Picking Chilli

Friday 5th July we went and visited a local Songket Weaving family.  We spent about an hour with them and were totally enchanted.  Two of the daughters are deaf, the oldest (Wayan) and the youngest (Ketut).  The middle daughter (Komang) is fine.  Mother Komang, and daughters Wayan and Komang (are you confused…?), are all Songket Weavers and create stunning masterpieces after many hours of work.

They let me ‘have a go’ on the loom – OMG it’s so complicated, detailed and fiddly, I was all fingers and thumbs and they were watching me like a hawk (luckily!) and would say “yes” if I did it right and “no” if I got it wrong.  In the end I laughed in hopelessness and gave up! But I really got to appreciate the work that goes into their beautiful creations.

Just so you understand – the ENTIRE fabric is woven with the pattern included as they go…they are not just ’embroidering’ the pattern onto fabric…the entire peace is created from nothing.  It’s just incredible!

Songket Weaving

Hopeless

Watching me like a hawk!

I purchased a piece of weaving that Komang (Daughter) had made (around 20 days of work).  I handed the money to Komang (Mother), who passed it directly to Komang (Daughter) and told us it’s for her schooling.  We were very impressed by this…that Komang is working for her education and gets the money directly for the hard work she does making these beautiful pieces.

Girls at work

Komang and Wayan at work

Songket Weaving

The experts – Mother Komang, Daughters – Wayan and Komang.

Brent liked the orange one that was still being made by Wayan and because I’m coming back to Sideman in August with another friend, I will collect it then.

Komang's Masterpiece

Komang’s beautiful masterpiece that I purchased for NZD$65…20 hours of work, that’s $3.25 per hour…

Komang (Daughter) speaks a little English and Komang (Mother) understands a little as well, so we got by with lots of hand gestures and head nodding and then Ketut brought out her school book for us to look at…considering she is deaf, she is doing very well at school and she uses sign language…

School book

Father (also named Wayan) came home from working in the fields, so the whole family was in attendance.  It was fantastic.  Such lovely, lovely people. I look forward to going back and spending time with them again.

Weaving Family

Ketut, Wayan (Father), Komang, Wayan, Komang (Mother)

On my final night (this trip) in Sideman, we’ve just got back from a yummy dinner at one of the local warung’s.  I’m sitting on our upstairs balcony watching the stars and lights of the surrounding villas, homestays and homes across the valley…listening to the chirping of insects, croaking of frogs…and in the village across the valley, the Gamelong is playing…perfect Bali music for a perfect Bali paradise.

Retreats in Bali 2015:

Women’s Retreat – feed your senses…feed your soul…

Writer’s Retreat

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