the prosperous photographer

Balinese Textiles, Batik + Ikat, Ubud

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There is so much to see in the Ubud area and 9 days is not enough to see it all! We hired a driver to take us away from the congested streets of Ubud and show us some traditional Balinese artisans. We had read a lot about Batik and knew that not too far in Gianyar there were a few shops that still made hand spun, hand dyed fabrics. 

Our driver suggested we stop into Cili. From the street, the store is unremarkable, in fact it looked closed. But walk in and you can’t believe the beauty of the fabrics that line the walls. You can order fabric by the yard, have custom items made or select from a beautiful assortment of clothing, sarongs, pillows, bags, etc. I fell in love with the gorgeous Ikat fabrics. The vibrancy of the colors is just incredible. I wanted to buy everything! Instead everyone is getting a souvenir from this shop! They have the cutest little cross shoulder bags for the girls for about $5 USD. And our new couches will have brand new pillows – in a variety of Ikat patterns. I even debated for half a second how to turn this beautiful fabric into a side business. Still thinking on that one!

The owner of the store could not have been any sweeter. Her english was nearly perfect. She mentioned how Cili has some US accounts that import their fabrics from her shop. She regularly has to travel for meetings and that’s how her english became so good. She couldn’t have been more helpful. Her staff doting on us. Showing us sizes, patterns, etc. This level of customer service we have become accustomed to since arriving in Bali. There is no one, not one person we have come in contact with that does not smile and bend over backwards to help you. And in a completely genuine manner.

One of her staff brought us out to the back where the fabrics are made. The open air work area is like a throwback to the turn of the century (the last century!). The process is 100% manual. The threads are handmade. The design is tied off on the threads. This area is resistant to the dye, which in essence creates the pattern. Once the cotton is dyed and the tied off areas removed and dried, they are placed on non-mechanical looms. The weaving process looks complicated but somehow results in a beautiful piece of fabric!

The workers that make that hand weave were out for a religious holiday the following day, so we did not get to see the looms working. The worker walked us through every step in the process – we left feeling we had a pretty good understanding (and appreciation!!!!) of how Ikat is made.

Their other specialty is Batik. Batik is a wax resist dying technique where patterns are drawn or stamped on fabric with melted wax. The wax is removed by soaking the fabric in boiling water until the pattern in achieved. Another incredible hand crafted fabric. (We were lucky enough to try our hand at Batik earlier in the week). 

Oh I’m sitting here regretting all the items I didn’t buy. Especially just bringing home a few yards of fabric for what I’m not sure. Our stop at Cili was one of the more memorable visits while in Bali. A true testament to this ancient form of textile making – a glimpse into the historical traditions of Bali in the present day.

Tenun Ikat Setia, Cili, Ikat Handweaving Mill, Hand Painted Batik, Ciung Wanara 7 Gianayar 80511 Bai, Indonesia. Tel 62-361-943409 email

(Photo Credit: thanks Nik, our driver for taking the first two photos of this post!)

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