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Women's groups urged to preserve tais traditions

Dili Weekly - February 28, 2017

Paulina Quintao – The Alola Foundation has called on women's weaving groups to preserve and maintain the originality of tais traditions as part of the country's identity.

Director of the Alola Foundation Alzira Reis said that some foreign companies were copying common tais patterns to respond to market needs.

"I call on the groups to continue making efforts to maintain what was given to us by our ancestors because it is our identity," she said at the opening of Alola's annual fair in Dili. "If Timorese people don't maintain it then the original product of Timor will become extinct."

She said tais production should not simply be about making money, but also promote Timorese culture, adding that this could help attract tourists to visit the different municipalities.

She said strengthening the economy was one of Alola's main priorities, especially in terms of building the capacity of weaving groups to improve product quality.

"Families' economic position is weak and may lead to malnutrition because they don't have money to buy nutritious food [and] children's education is also lacking, particularly access to schools," she said.

She said access to markets was another significant problem faced by many women's groups and that Alola's handicraft fair and its onsite store provided an opportunity for local groups to sell their products.

However, national MP Josefa Alvares Pereira Soares said the originality of local tais designs had already been lost in some municipalities as the process had been modernized and traditional materials were no longer used.

"The original tais was made with local cotton and dyed with bark and leaves to produce the colors," she said. "It is better quality than the tais made from imported cotton because the color fades."

She said many people now use imported materials because it was quick and easy to make one tais, while using local material can take two to three months – and sometimes up to a year. She said Timor-Leste had yet to implement a proper law for the protection of local products like tais and other things.

Source: http://www.thediliweekly.com/en/news/14378-women-s-groups-urged-to-preserve-tais-traditions-2