TAIS (Traditional Cloth of East Timor)

Weaving in Southeast Asia has always been performed by women in order to fulfill personal or customary requirements. It is considered seasonal work especially during the dry season during which their labor is not needed in agricultural fields. Each color has symbolic meaning: a dark color (usually black) symbolizes night, north and women, while a light color (red, for example) symbolizes day, south and men.

For East Timorese, trading woven cloth (as shown in this picture) outside their own society is a new concept promoted by UNIFEM (United Nations Development Fund for Women) under its program called East Timor: Economic Empowerment Through Tais.

The resemblance between the shape of the straw hut in this image and the motif of this Tai cloth is very clear.

The lady in the picture is Kiersty Sword Gusmao, the first lady of East Timor.