In the ancient, ritualistic (Bali Aga) society of Tenganan Pegeringsingan, the God Indra is honored as the creator of the first human beings and, at the same time, as the divine designer of a category of magical fabrics which are among the most spectacular ever produced by the textile art of Southeast Asia. The geringsing Ikat of Tenganan, as they are called, have made this east Balinese ritual community famous the world over among textile technologists.
The Geringsing of Tenganan are produced by what is known as the double ikat method, a technique in which resist patterns are applied to both warp and weft threads before weaving, so that the final pattern appears only on completion. This extremely demanding and time-consuming process is known in only three places in the world: Japan, India and Indonesia while in the entire Indonesian archipelago it is practiced only in this tiny village.
The most striking and characteristic feature of all Geringsing is their muted coloring - combining red and reddish-brown tones, eggshell and dark blue or black violet. These are obtained by dyeing or cross-dyeing with pigments obtained from outer layers of the sunti root (Morinda citrifolia) and with taum (indigo). A certain uniformity in appearance is also due to the fact that the cloths are woven without exception, in loose tabby from cotton yarns. Their “ rustic “ texture as compared with silk fabrics of Balinese provenance is further emphasized by the way all of the motifs are built up out of tiny rectangles (due to the way patterning is produced by both thread systems together) and by the fact that the structure and the architecture of the motives extends over the entire surface of the cloths, producing patterns of great pictorial charm.
Gringsing possess the Magical power to ward of the harm wrought by natural and supernatural enemies, and to confer invulnerability on a bearer of arms..............They also serve to preserve the purity on which the existence of the village and its community depend.............By virtue of their magical qualities, they are not only capable of keeping impurities and danger out of the village, but also actively shield a human being from threats and baleful influences................