The JMM Cooperative – Jasa Menenun Mandiri

The driver’s helper asked us to bow our heads in silent prayer before we left the “bus station” in Pontianak to take an 11 hour bus ride into Borneo. We were then each handed a box with a bun/danish and some water, and off we went to Sintang, where I will spend half of my time in Indonesia.

My room is upstairs in the office, and other employees live here too. This is pretty common for NGOs in Indonesia, maybe even in Asia. My project is one devised by the People Resources Conservation Foundation ( in support of the Jasa Menenun Mandiri Cooperative.

The JMM Cooperative, previously situated in the Kobus Center, is now located in its own three-story, award winning facility.

The cooperative is a point of sales for approximately 400 Dayak women weavers in twelve kampung (villages) surrounding Sintang, West Kalimantan, Indonesia. This Dayak “Desa” tribe, indigenous people of the Sintang district of West Kalimantan, incorporate adbtract motifs into their traditional handicraft in order to tell a story: their history, their dreams and their aspirations.

The daily operations of the cooperative are managed by a representative body of the twelve villages, by nineadult children of the weavers. All in their 20s and early 30s, this group is extremely competent and creative. Just ask the Jakarta auditor who came expecting some poorly run operation and who was incredibly impressed with their business activities.

I gave a presentation on the first two days at the co-op. They all sat, attentive to my very broken Bahasa Indonesian mixed with (a lot of) English as my boss tried his best to assist with the translations. Eager to learn, and extremely intelligent, they made this awkward experience for me a little easier.

The majority of the Dayak product line consists of tenun Ikat (a traditional weaving style). This line ranges from thin neck scarves to full blanket-sized items. The majority of the woven fabrics are made with natural dyes and the workmanship is as intricate as it is amazing. I particularly like the baskets, some similar to the rattan ones that I have seen the village women carrying their produce in. If we didn’t get 100 meters of snow every winter, I’m sure they would be popular in Montreal.

With the assistance of Pastor Jacques Maasen of the Kobus Center, a new museum has opened in Sintang, showcasing antique peices of this tradional artform.

These activities fall under the “weaving arts cultural revitalization” efforts created by the PRCF (People Resources and Conservation Foundation), the KOBUS Center, and YSDK (a local NGO based in West Kalimantan).

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