"A man filled with the love of God is not content with blessing his family alone, but ranges through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race." Joseph Smith

Friday, August 14, 2015

The Dili Tais Market

Tais is a traditional cloth made exclusively by women from Timor-Leste.  Intricate designs and colors combine together reflecting the dynamics of a people who for generations have clung to culture to bind them together. Skills carefully passed down from one generation to another preserve the knowledge that is unique and distinct to the people of Timor-Leste.

Each municipality in Timor-Leste produces Tais with their own woven pattern with unique colors and patterns. If you knew the patterns well enough, you could identify where in Timor-Leste your textile item came from.  

                                           Welcome to the Dili Tais Market!

Down this little alley are family-run shops full of Tais products, everything from bookmarks and purses to table runners and bedspreads.

The Tais Market is one of the key tourist stops in Dili.  Problem is, there aren't many tourists.....

Women weave the cloth with cotton thread traditionally dyed with tree roots, bark, flowers and other natural items that give the unique colors to the fabric. Today some of the dyes used are no longer from natural substances, but red is still the favorite color, being one of the national colors 
for longevity and courage.

This woman used a spinner to form the cotton threads, and here is rolling the cotton thread into a ball for dying and weaving.

These women show the traditional method used for making the Tais woven designs.

Over the years, this little area where the market now stands has been burned and destroyed multiple times by occupations forces.  In 2008, USAID began providing assistance to help vendors have a secure location for the setting up of stalls to sell their goods. Today babies feed in mothers arms, children grow up under feet, and boys play along the street - and life goes on in the little Tais Market.

Waiting for customers....

Elder Coffey made a new friend.  The mother is wearing a sarong - typical of the traditional skirts worn by many women.  Sometimes these sarongs are also made out of Tais fabric.


Table runners with the traditional colors. Red, yellow and  black are the colors of the country flag. I especially liked this one because it has the classic Timor-Leste crocodile image on it.  


Tais has been one of the ways that the Timorese people have held together culturally through the years of wars, destruction and genocide. Capturing the determined spirit of the people, Fernando Sylvan, a Timorese poet, writes:

Culture are the memories of a people who refuse to die!  
Action is the history of a people who refuse to die!
Did you hear me?
Did you hear me well?
Life is the freedom of a people who refuse to die!
Independence is the craving of a people who refuse to die!
Did you hear me?
Did you hear me well?
Justice is the endowment of a people who refuse to die!
Struggle is the finding of a people who refuse to die!
Did you hear me?
Did you hear me well?

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