Lack of local material poses a threat to maintaining originality of Timor-Leste’s Tais

Lack of local material poses a threat to maintaining originality of Timor-Leste’s Tais

Image Timor Aid

DILI, 03 april 2024 (TATOLI) – Timor Aid and ALOLA Foundation encourage Rede Soru Na’in groups to grow indigenous plant species used for making traditional Tais.

The founder of Timor Aid, Maria do Céu Lopes da Silva, said that Tais had been inscribed on UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage, saying therefore the use of traditional materials was crucial to maintain the originality of Timor-Leste’s Tais.

Traditional tais are made from two components: cotton lint which is hand spun into yarn and natural dyes which are used to colour the yarn before it is woven into fabric, according to Timor Aid report.

Timor Aid found that traditionally the cotton for tais has been grown locally from any of three species of cotton, all of which are grown widely around the world for cotton production but none of which are native to Timor-Leste: Gossypium hirsutum; Gossypium barbadense and Gossypium arboretum.

Silva said that using local material is the best way to preserve and pass on the originality tais to the next generation.

“We collaborated with the Rede Soru Na’in groups in each municipality to offer land for growing cotton,” he added.

Meanwhile, Ilda Maria da Cruz, manager of Women’s Empowerment of Alola Foundation, said that the Alola Foundation would continue to support the groups in the production of local cotton.

“We encourage Rede Soru Na’in groups from the municipalities of Covalima, Lautém, Baucau, Oecusse (RAEROA), Lautém, Bobonaro and Viqueque, to grow cotton,” he said.

Agostinha Soares, a member of the Rede Soru Na’in Network, said that they currently only have four or five cotton trees in their garden: “We hope that the government, through the Secretary of State for Art and Culture, will support the production of cotton for the mass production of Tais.”

The Secretary of State for Art and Culture, Jorge Cristovão, said that he would work with the Ministry of Agriculture to support the groups with cotton seeds for mass production.

Tais is made from cotton and natural dyes from plants. Production of Tais has been mainly done by women and generally, tais is woven manually by using simple equipment. Hence the traditional process to produce Tais is quite complex, takes long time and manual labour, according to Timor-Aid.


Journalist: José Belarmino De Sá

Editor: Filomeno Martins


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