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Geringsing: Sacred Cloth of Tenganan  

by on Friday, 22 June 2007No Comment | 4,837 views

From a tiny village of Tenganan comes the rare geringsing cloth that put this little village among the best in textile technology. The geringsing cloth with its double ikat technique – a method in which resist patterns are applied to both the wrap and the welt before weaving, so that the final pattern appears only on completion – is the most spectacular ever produced by the textile art in Southeast Asia.

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When someone encountered the geringsing for the first time, he is immediately captivated by the mute color of geringsing. Geringsing combines red and reddish brown tones, eggshell and dark blue or violet. These mute colors are obtained from natural pigment of outer layers of sunti root (morinda citrifolia) and indigo. The geringsing threads are dyed and cross-dyed several times with the natural pigments to achieve the wanted color and pattern. Since the geringsing is woven in loose tabby from cotton yarns, it produces certain uniformity in appearance.

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All kind of geringsings share a basic pattern in which the cloth is divided into two corresponding ‘head’ portion at either end, serves as a frame for a large central panel that is in turn subdivided by arrange the motifs in various ways. Various motifs are used to fill the large central section. For example groups of geometric and abstract floral motifs may be repeated over the whole of central panel, horizontally, vertically or along the diagonal. Some kinds of geringsing have a quite different form of central section for example, the geringsing wayang type has large four-pointed stars with a crenellated motif surrounded by four scorpions devide the main field into semicircular segments. These segments contain stars, emblems, architectural elements, animals and Balinese wayang kulit (shadow puppet) figure.

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For the residents of Tenganan village geringsing is not just an ordinary cloth, it is a sacred fabric which full of magical power to protect the wearer. The word ‘geringsing’ is derived from the word ‘gering’ means ‘pestilence’ or ‘plague’ and the word ‘sing’ means ‘no’, it means geringsing possess the magical power to ward off harm wrought by natural or supernatural enemies, and confer invulnerability on the bearer one.

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Geringsing not just use for protection but also as a mark of the community membership, it is an incontestable evidence that the wearer belong to the village of Tenganan. Geringsing has become a kind of proprietary mark of Tenganan, a cloth that serves as a social insignia with which Tenganan residence adorn themselves whenever they received guest from neighboring village or when they go outside the village to visit a friend or pay homage to certain temples.

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Some materials for this writing are taken from the book “Balinese Textiles”.

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