Culture is the essence, it defines any civilised society or individualyovita

Biboki Weavers, a non-profit organisation in West Timor founded in 1990 by Mrs Maria Yovita Meta Bastian, stimulates cultural and economic development through the re-orientation of traditional skills in one of the poorest parts of Indonesia. Old techniques such as handspinning of cotton and use of natural dyestuffs have been revived and updated, and new knowledge, for example, of synthetic dyes, has been incorporated; community stories and values are expressed through specific local styles and techniques like ikat, supplementary weft and tapestry weaving.



Biboki Weavers: Yovita Meta, Prince Claus Fund Laureate 2003

Website Prince Claus Fund - Prince Claus Awards 2003

biboki detail

"Fut Biboek, Sa" traditional motive, cotton thread, natural color
47 x 160 cm, 2001-2002 courtesy of Cemeti Art Foundation


Culture is not a luxury?

Culture is a habit which is done intendedly and consiously. It is passed from generation to generation and appears in the form of clothes, musical instruments, language, dancing, and songs. Culture is unique and has great historical value, it is not a luxurious thing to boost people’s self pride.

One example of our daily cultural habits is the way that the Bibokis usually start, enjoy and end something by praying to their ancestors. This is motivated by respect for natural resources in the sense that if nature is treated badly it will become unbalanced and disasters will happen.

The Prince Claus Award

For me the award from the Prince Claus Fund is a very precious award in my life, which I never even hoped for, it is amazing. The Prince Claus Fund appreciates the things I was given by my The Biboki women will tell the future generations that their existence is respected by another country ancestors. The Bibokis will keep this in their deep, deep heart as the unforgettable history in their lives forever. Especially the Biboki women will tell the future generations that their existence is respected by another country.

With the money of the Prince Claus Fund, we built a central office for the Tafean Pah Institution which is called Tafean Pah Art House. The centre is used for storing and selling products of members with the "fair trade" principle. We organise Timorese culture and art shows. We give guided tours and demonstrations of activities such as spiralling the cotton by hand at night with the help of the flame of bamboo accompanied by traditional song, weaving, colouring and traditional dancing such as likurai and bonet dancing.

Social development

Hand made weaving of Biboki designs has a cultural value as the material is used in traditional ceremonies such as weddings, paying respect to the dead and religious rituals. The material is also used for likurai dancing for example. Apart from their role in traditional cultural events, hand made weaving by Biboki is sold so that weavers can make a living. They can pay school fees, build houses, save money for the future, or buy cattle.

Our main objective is to empower the local community. This is done by developing the agricultural rituals of traditional people. For example, by creating the habit of saving more crops in the store houses to anticipate hunger, by taking good care of natural resources and by opening up the local, national and even international market.

The role of women in a male-dominated society is developed. Biboki weavers train their daughters and pass on their knowledge and skills. By continuously grouping together while helping the Biboki women we intend to build their self confidence and empower them financially and practically. They are treated with more respect because of what they contribute to the community, which in turn increases their dignity.