Cultural Revitalization

cultural revitalization

The goal of the ‘Cultural Arts Revitalization Program’ is to revive valuable cultural elements of ancestral societies in countries where the PRCF operates.  The focus has thus far been on revitalizing the weaving cultural arts of the Dayak people in West Kalimantan, Indonesia.  On the basis of experiences with the Dayak, preparatory research has taken place to revitalize the weaving culture of the Chin people in Southern Chin Hills in Myanmar.

The program embraces cultural, socioeconomic, institutional, and environmental aspects.  It works with target women weavers to revive ancestral arts significant to their culture, by enhancing contemporary artistic skills of the community, interest and determination, and togetherness.  This is complemented by additional PRCF support to build the institutional and management capacities needed to reach household and community self-sufficiencies.  Because socioeconomic development and the custody of natural resources play an important role in reaching sustainability, program activities are linked to the conservation of forest resources, and partnerships in the management of biodiversity.

Both Dayak and Chin people retain significant artistic features of their ancestral weaving arts. In Indonesia, revitalization of the weaving culture is increasingly gaining momentum.

The value of Dayak and Chin weaving arts includes, but is not limited to: the cultural significance of depicted designs (particularly to the Dayak); quality of the cotton thread; tightness of the weaving; clarity and richness of color ; and imbedded embroidery (particular to Chin weaves).

Chin weaves imbed silk embroidery threaded within the weft-thread, while Dayak “ikats”, however, depict an assemblage of abstract concepts and patterns of human relationships represented by utilitarian artifacts that once played significant parts in everyday life in the Dayak village.  The “ikat” design is dreamed by the weaver, and following an imbedded weaved commemoration to ancestors, the weaver portrays her dream through the arrangement of symbols in the weave.

In both societies, younger weavers have never been properly exposed to the cultural significance of the symbols and design in ancestral weavings.  Older weavers are not transferring their artistry, symbolism, and technologies to the newer generations.  Oral traditions are gradually becoming lost with the older generations and with them the traditional weaving culture.

Through the Cultural Arts Revitalization Program, the PRCF works towards reversing the loss of cultural elements and what this represents to the societies with whom we work.