Mbojo Woven Clothes, the Legacy of Bima Kingdom

Kain tenun Mbojo

Kain tenun on a fashion show. Photo from jelajahsumbawa.com.

Like batik, baju bodo, kebaya, or few others traditional clothes, people today still wears kain tenun (woven cloth). If you visit the Eastern Indonesia one day, specially the province of West Lesser Sunda, you must buy this as souvenir.

It’s beautiful. I have some at home. But they are sarong, the bottom cloth.

Two weeks ago, my family attended a wedding party of a realtive. I must wear a nursing cloth, but in the other side, I wanted my new kebaya I wore for my graduation ceremony few years ago. That kebaya matches perfectly the dress made from tenun. But, the tailor sewed it too press body for a breastfeeding mother like I am. So, I couldn’t wear that tenun.

I wish I had kain tenun for the top. And it would be good if it’s a traditional woven cloth from West Lesser Sunda (Nusa Tenggara Barat). The price of this kind is quite expensive, adjusting how complicated its pattern. The more difficult the pattern, the more expensive the price. Because it takes times to make such art. Even an experienced artist requires a full month to finish one “simple” woven cloth.

Mbojo local people with sarong

Local people with sarong. Photo from arimbojo.wordpress.com

Kain tenun of West Lesser Sunda are made by the women from Sasak Tribe on Lombok Island, also Samawa and Mbojo Tribe on Sumbawa Island. Weaving is a way to earn a living for them. It’s their daily activity and a hereditary tradition. Each tribe has different pattern of kain tenun, like the batik in Java. That’s why kain tenun also becomes an Indonesian richness that must be preserved.

Mbojo tenun has been recognized as an official woven cloth of Bima Kingdom (an Islamic kingdom in Eastern Indonesia). Because of its uniqueness, Mbojo tenun became a main commodity that was sold by Mbojo traders even before 1960s. Their distribution areas reached Malaysia, Singapore, and China.

Mbojo tenun has many kinds and functions. These are some of them:

  1. Tembe (sarong)
    This is a wove from cotton yarn. People in Mbojo area produces so many cotton plants. It makes the sultanate arranged the custom rule that every woman in Bima have to weav to increase the production of Mbojo woven cloth.
  2. Sambolo (head cloth)
    It’s a Mbojo traditional head cloth for men. In previous period, sambolo was a superior woven. The teenagers had to wear it. There were also sambolo bate (sambolo made from batik) with the shape like Javanais blankon (head cloth) in 1950. But it’s not too popular.
  3. Weri (belt)
    This is a belt from malanta salolo, or white fabric without pattern. Tha colors can be yellow, wine-colored, or brown, with the pattern of Pado Waji, Kakando, and Bunga Satako.
  4. Mbojo blouse
    After weaving, the women creates blouse from their kain tenun. The blouse has been popular since 1980s. It’s a combination of old and new woven cloth pattern. But they still have to obey the rule, value and standard of local custom.

Nowadays, the local government drives people to love modern clothes made of tenun. So tenun could be as popular as batik.

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