The goal of the ‘Cultural Arts Revitalization Program’ is to revive valuable cultural elements of ancestral societies in countries where the PRCF operates, particularly Indonesia and Myanmar. Our program focus has thus far been on revitalizing the weaving cultural arts of the Dayak people in West Kalimantan. On the basis of experiences working with the Dayak Desa sub-group in Sintang district, we have initiated work with several Iban communities in Kappas Hulu district, and preparatory research has taken place to revitalize the weaving culture of the Chin people in the Southern Chin Hills of Myanmar.
Support of traditional weaving arts
The program embraces cultural, socioeconomic, institutional, and environmental aspects. It works with target women weavers to revive ancestral arts significant to their culture. With the weavers, we facilitate reviving weaving symbolism and techniques knowledge, and enhance contemporary artistic skills, interest, determination, and community togetherness. This is complemented by compatible PRCF support to build the institutional and management capacities needed to reach household and community self-sufficiency. Because socioeconomic development and the custody of natural resources play an important role in reaching sustainability, program activities are linked to the protection of forest resources and biodiversity.
Cultural significance of weaving
Both Dayak and Chin people retain significant artistic features of their ancestral weaving arts. In Indonesia, revitalization of the weaving culture is increasingly gaining momentum. Our original work with Dayak Desa has now been adopted and led by the community itself, through a Dayak weavers cooperative named ‘Jasa Menenum Mandiri’, translated into Weavers Go Independent.
The value of Dayak and Chin weaving arts includes, but is not limited to: the cultural significance of depicted designs (particularly to the Dayak); quality of the cotton thread; tightness of the weaving; clarity and richness of color ; and imbedded embroidery (particular to Chin weaves).
Chin weaves imbed silk embroidery threaded within the weft-thread, while Dayak Ikats depict an assemblage of abstract concepts and patterns of human relationships represented by utilitarian artifacts that once played significant parts in everyday life in the Dayak village. The Ikat design is dreamed by the weaver, and following an imbedded weaved commemoration to ancestors, the weaver portrays her dream through the arrangement of symbols in the weave.
Preservation of weaving knowledge
Through the Cultural Arts Revitalization Program, PRCF works towards reversing the loss of cultural elements and what this represents to the societies with whom we work.
Our approach is to revive the ancestral methods and significance of these arts, while helping the target communities improve their livelihood conditions by establishing village self-help groups and by providing training in villagers to improve their agriculture, forestry, and institutional aspects