All You Need to Know About Kain Gringsing Tenganan

Woven fabric is one of the characteristics of several villages in Indonesia. If you visit Bali, one of the typical woven fabrics is the Gringsing fabric from the village of Tenganan.

Gringsing fabric is the only traditional Indonesian woven fabric that is made using double tie technique and requires a manufacturing time of 2-5 years. Generally, the Tenganan people have hundreds of years old gringsing cloth used in special ceremonies.

The word gringsing comes from gring which means 'sick' and sing which means 'no', so when combined it becomes 'not sick'.

The purpose contained in the word is like a talisman or repellent. In Bali, various ceremonies, such as tooth-cutting ceremonies, marriages and other religious ceremonies, are carried out using the power of gringsing cloth.


The myth of Gringsing

Based on the myth, the existence of gringsing woven cloth originated from Dewa Indra (God Indra), the protector and teacher of life for the people of Tenganan.

Dewa Indra was amazed by the beauty of the sky at night and he explained the beauty through woven motifs to the people of his choice, namely the people of Tenganan.

The deity teaches women to master the technique of gringsing cloth weaving which depicts and perpetuates the beauty of stars, moon, sun, and other expanses of sky. Dark woven fabrics are naturally used by the Tenganan people in religious or customary rituals and are believed to have magical powers.

This fabric is also mentioned as a tool that is able to cure diseases and ward off bad influences.

The origin of Gringsing

Textile experts say that the gringsing weaving technique is only found in three locations in the world, namely Tenganan (Indonesia), Japan, and India.

In 1984, Urs Ramseyer (1984) in his writing entitled Clothing, Ritual and Society in Tenganan Pegeringsingan Bali, stated the presumption that the Tenganan people were immigrants from ancient India. This is based on the similarities between the two who are adherents of Dewa Indra.

These immigrants may carry double-tie techniques via shipping from Orrisa or Andhra Pradesh and develop the technique independently in Tenganan.

Another possibility is that immigrants outlined quotations from several types of patola weaving to be developed in Indonesia.

Different pattern on Gringsing woven

It is said that there were around 20 types of gringsing weaving. However, until 2010, only ± 14 types were still being worked on, some of which were,

Lubeng, is characterized by a scorpion and functions as a traditional dress and is used in religious ceremonies. There are several types of Lubeng motifs, namely Lubeng Luhur (three flowers in the form of an intact scorpion), Lubeng Petang Dasa (one whole scorpion flower in the middle and only half in the end of the fabric), and Lubeng Pat Likur (smallest size).

Sanan Empeg, characterized by three red-black boxes / poles. The function of this patterned gringsing cloth is as a means of religious and customary ceremonies, namely as a complement to offerings for the people of Tenganan Pegeringsingan. 

For the Balinese people outside the village of Tenganan, this cloth is used as a pillow cover / mat the head of the person carries out a human ceremony which cuts teeth.

Cecempakaan, characterized by cempaka flowers and functions as traditional attire and religious ceremonies. The types of Gringsing Cecempakaan are Cecempakaan Petang Dasa, Cecempakaan Putri, and Geringsing Cecempakaan Pat Likur.

Cemplong, characterized by large flowers among small flowers, so that there appears to be a vacuum between the flowers that become flat. Gringsing cemplong also functions as traditional attire and religious ceremonies.

The types of short motifs consist of Pat Likur size (24 threads), senteng / anteng (clothes on a woman's waist), and sizes of Evening Dasa (40 threads) that are almost extinct.

Gringsing Penuh, the motif is all filled or full, there is no blank piece of cloth. This motif functions only for ceremonial means and is only available with Pat Likur size (24 threads).

Puppets, consisting of gringsing wayang kebo and gringsing wayang putri. Wayang kebo has a male puppet motif, while female puppets only contain female puppet motifs.

This motif is the most difficult to work on and requires up to 5 years.

The puppet motif consists of only two colors, namely black as a background and a relatively fine white line to form a puppet figure. To create a white line with this requires high accuracy because the level of difficulty during binding and weaving of cloth is relatively difficult.

Batun Tuung, which is characterized by eggplant seeds, is not large in size and is used for shawls (scarves) in women and belts (belts) in men. This motif is almost extinct.

Other ancient gringsing motifs that are still known include: Teteledan, Ready Enjekan, Pepare, Gegonggangan, Sitan Pegat, Wall Ai, Sigading Wall, and Talidandan.

The color and uniqueness of the tie design began to change compared to ancient fabric motifs, some of which were stored in museums in Europe, such as the Museum of Basel, Switzerland.

In 1972, a research group from the Fur Volkerkunde Museum, Basel, carried photographs of gringsing cloth, some of which were no longer found in Tenganan Village. The photos were studied and reproduced by the Tenganan people to preserve the ancient motifs of the Gringsing fabric