A techno-ethnography of Toraja-Mamasa tablet weavings from Sulawesi, Indonesia

Part 1: Prior studies, current findings, and geographic distributions


  • Keiko Kusakabe Independent


tablet weaving, Toraja, Mamasa, double faced weave


This article focuses on the technique of tablet weaving, a particular method of weaving using a portable loom equipped with tablets, and its geographic distribution in Sulawesi. Specifically, it discusses the development of the technique in the highlands of Sulawesi, Indonesia, and compares the practices in the highlands with those in the lowlands and the bordering enclaves. This study is based on the author’s field research in the Toraja and Mamasa regions (1997 to 2017). The field research shows that current Mamasa weavers employs a unique system for manipulating the tablet, which has not been reported from any other place in the world. Part 1 of this article addresses the common misnomer of this unique tablet weaving as simply ‘Torajan’ or from ‘Sulawesi’ by showing a more accurate geographic distribution of tablet weaving in this island and proposes that the system should be called the Toraja-Mamasa tablet weaving. Part 1 further compares the Toraja-Mamasa tablet weaving in the highlands with the Bugis type in the lowlands and the interstitial Pitu-Ulunna-Salu type between the two regions.1 Part 2 describes in greater detail the tablet-weaving technique practiced in the Mamasa region today. It also puts the Toraja-Mamasa double-faced weave in global context by exploring four structural variations of the double-faced weave around the world.