“I was a kid with a big dream! I wanted to be an astronaut back then.”
“But I couldn’t make it. I’m only an elementary school graduate.”
Among the women we interviewed, only Samiati dared to dream beyond the sky: she wanted to be an astronaut. She learned about astronauts from television. From seeing the news about astronauts, she wanted to see how it would feel like to walk on the moon. When she was asked by the teacher, she was the only one who wanted to be an astronaut. Alas, she could only make it until elementary school, so she decided to turn to another profession, which apparently more than just visiting new places, but, telling stories about her origin, a weaver.
Little Woman, Big Work of Art
We visited Samiati in her newly-built house. The house looked very artistic even though it hadn’t been covered in paint yet. Samiati invited us inside while preparing boiled corn she bought from a farmer who passed in front of her house. Her body is very small, but she is very good at her job and she produces great work. She is regarded as one of the most talented weavers in the Sukarara village.
Her mother taught Samiati to weave when she was in the second grade of elementary school. Even though her mother taught her in a harsh manner, she still patiently followed every instruction her mother gave to her. Lombok mothers are known to be very strict and disciplined when they teach their children to weave, Samiati even said that she was hit by her mother. “I would prefer being taught by my aunts or my neighbors,” said Samiati. Even so, her mother, who is a rice trader, is the most inspiring ﬁgure for Samiati. Little Samiati was usually taken care of and protected by her brother because her mother had to go to work in the morning and went home at night after work. Thus, her mother did not have much time to take care of Samiati. Learning to weave together was a memorable ‘mother-daughter’ time for her.
With her strong urge to learn, it didn’t take a long time for Samiati to master weaving. The ﬁrst fabric she made was a green kain tenun with an oﬀ-white accent, decorated in a meticulous pattern. Funnily, although some people wanted to buy the beautiful tenun, she refused to sell it as she values it as a memento. Her ﬁrst experience in weaving became the foundation for her to pursue weaving for her life.
Her favorite tenun pattern is Keker, a classic and original pattern of Sukarara, Lombok. It’s decorated with two peacocks standing in front of each other under the shade of a tree. This beautiful pattern tells a story of lovers, enjoying each other’s presence surrounded by lush trees. Unlike most weavers, Samiati does not hesitate in choosing complex motifs with many colors. For us, Samiati’s kain tenun immediately attracts the eye. Mrs. Nur, our local guide also admitted that the reason why she chose Samiati for interview was because of her work ethic and her weaving skills. For this reason, many people called her ‘The Little Cayenne’.
Marriage for Samiati
Cheerful and cheeky, Samiati has the energy of someone who’s never experienced sorrow in her life. Indeed, she cherishes life and she’s happy with her love life. In stark contrast to some of the women we interviewed, Samiati married the man she loves. In Lombok, there is a tradition called Melari where a man would kidnap a woman to marry her. To Samiati, although they were married based on the tradition, they share mutual feelings.
Both Samiati and her husband have petite frames and are ten years apart in age. They met at a party when she was a teenager. When they were married, Samiati was 19 years old and her husband was 29 years old. He treats her equally and she adores him for it. Her husband can help her with the household chores such as cooking or washing clothes. What’s fascinating is that her husband trust Samiati to manage their finances, and he supports her to continue education. However, it seems that Samiati is more interested in developing herself in the weaving industry.
Aside from weaving, Samiati wants to expand her skills by learning how to sew, so she could make more crafts from her kain tenun. She’s eager to take sewing courses, yet she cannot afford the tuition fee. As such, she hopes that there are basic sewing courses so she, and many other women, can develop their own products.