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Tais — Traditional Textiles of Timor-Leste


Timor Aid


2014 – 2017




Arts & Crafts

Type of Work

Book Design


Tais are the traditional hand-woven cloths made on a backstrap loom by women in Timor-Leste. They are an essential part of the nation’s cultural heritage and generally worn by men and women during traditional ceremonies. There are as many tais designs as there are family clans across the country.


With the intention to preserve these traditional weaving techniques, Timor Aid took the task of researching and publishing a collection of books covering the nation’s textile heritage. The research was initially conducted by Joanna Barrkman, Southeast Asia textile curator, and Rosalia Soares†, senior researcher at Timor Aid. The first two books: The Textiles of Covalima (2014) and The Textiles of Lautem (2015) were published in three separate language editions—Tetun, Portuguese and English—, and the following two issues The Textiles of Baucau (2016) and The Textiles of Bobonaro (2017) were designed in a trilingual format. 

In 2021, the ICH Committee approved the inscription of Tais on the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding

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