Barkcloth Odyssey

Barkcloth: One of the Oldest Fibers in Human's Clothing History

Long before cotton threads arrived in Central Sulawesi, the people used to wear barkcloth as their daily clothes. It was made from the tree bark of certain kind of plants, including paper mulberry (broussonetia papyrifera), ficus, and breadfruit (artocarpus altilis) among other species.

In this region, barkcloth has always been an integral part in the lives of the people, particularly in the four main valleys encircle the mountainous range which is now called the Lore Lindu National Park – Bada, Besoa, Napu and Kulawi valleys.

Slowly the use of barkcloth had become a rarity, replaced by cotton and synthetic fabrics mainly due to practicality and economy consideration, which began around the arrival time of colonialism, foreign traders, and religious missionaries in Central Sulawesi in early 19th century.


Since 2015, we've been walking with barkcloth artisans of the Bada Valley. Started with 2 individual artisans, we have now worked with 20+ barkcloth artisans in 4 villages. Progressing one step at a time, we are glad to have some youths joined in, working together to revive, sustain, and celebrate this ancestral heritage of Ranta, what barkcloth is called in Bada Valley.


How We Made Our Barkcloth

There were at least 18 species of plants historically recorded as barkcloth materials. We mainly work with Béa (paper mulberry / broussonetia papyrifera), followed by five other species seasonally, Nunu (ficus), Malo, Hohawa, Tepulu, and Kalekau. Paper mulberry being the main role for their cultural significance and ecological values, which includes the ability to grow and regenerate, and how beneficial they are for the land.

Our paper mulberry trees are planted, nurtured, and ethically-harvested by Topobéa (barkcloth artisans) in their own garden and orchards in Bada Valley. This eases them to access the raw materials when they need some to make the Béa barkcloth, which usually takes place at their home or wooden hut in the rice field.

Here's the flow of Ranta Béa (paper mulberry barkcloth) making process.

The process of some special-intended barkcloth, such as for wedding attires, are even more intricate as they require specific method of traditional natural dyeing and hand-painting process.


How We Made Our Barkcloth Bags and Accessories

Our barkcloth products are designed using the "mindful-creation-follow-materials" approach, with inspirations gathered from the wholeness of womanhood, the exquisite Indonesian arts and crafts, as well as daily life's particles that we called sprinkles of magic instead of mundane.

In our studio in Ubud, Bali, some of the barkcloth are naturally-dyed with plants and earth pigments.

In assembling the barkcloth, we make the most efficient cuttings and zero-waste patterns, respecting the elaborate process of the barkcloth itself, as much as striving for sustainable design and responsible production.

From prototype to final result, we work our best and keep doing improvements to create authentic, impactful heartmade goods and wearable poetry, before they land gracefully in your hands.

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