The country of Indonesia is actually an archipelago that is made up of more than 13,000 islands. However, none of these islands compare with the island of Lombok, with Bali as a very close second. Although Bali is much more commercialized and so much better known by people outside Indonesia, Lombok has more interesting natural and cultural attractions. The local people of Lombok have pretty much maintained their century-old traditions in doing things, running the home, and making a living. The village called Sukarare, located south of Cakranegara is a good place to observe how the locals have maintained their century-old lifestyle.
Sukarare is a village of traditional weavers, and the villagers’ most popular product is the very colorful and intricately patterned songket cloth. Everything that involves the production of this fabric – techniques, patterns and motifs – involves age-old traditions that have been handed down through generations. Visitors to the village not only enjoy the chance of seeing authentic Indonesian weaving done but also get to buy woven textiles that are much cheaper than those sold in the markets, resorts and cities.
Lombok is just now gaining international popularity as a major summer destination. Its world-class beaches, dive sites and waterfalls are hard to ignore. In the past, the island was bothered by many religious and political problems, which is why its tourism never really took off. It was also plagued by a series of natural disasters such as volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and famine. Today, two of its most important natural treasures, the exotic Gili Islands and the looming Mount Rinjani, are steadily receiving hordes of international visitors and fans. Soon, the Indonesian Government is hoping to have Mount Rinjani as its first and only UNESCO World Geopark site. The island’s capital city is Mataram and its center of tourism is Senggigi. Senggigi has an inviting coastline, upscale hotels and restaurants, and exciting nightlife.
The village of Sukarare is not very far from Mataram and Senggigi. The small and humble village actually has a lot to offer. Tourists are treated to see a row of traditional thatched homes that surround a market, set with a scenic mountainous backdrop. The view is picture perfect. The main attractions, of course, are the native fabrics and textiles that are woven into clothes, curtains, and pieces of decorations. Lombok batik is the most popular and artistic of all the kinds of batik clothing that may be found in Indonesia. Different regions in Indonesia put their own unique spin in their batiks, and the most sought after ones are those that come out from Lombok, specifically from Sukarare Village.
The island of Lombok has a lot to be proud about, despite its backwardness in modern development and urbanization. The locals of Sukarare – the Sasak people – live in poverty and without the comforts of modern technology but what they have are traditions and a culture that cannot be seen anywhere else in the world. Their ways are so unique that it shows in their woven products. The Sasaks also follow a unique brand of Islam that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. They call it Wektu Telu, with which they observe Islamic beliefs alongside animism and pantheism.