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Original Tais of Timor-Leste endangered

Dili Weekly - November 23, 2016

Paulina Quintao – The original tais (traditional cloth) of the Timor-Leste is in grave danger of becoming extinct due to the government's inaction to develop policy to promote and protect traditional tais weaving.

The Executive Director of Alola foundation, Alzira Reis said some of the tais currently being sold in Dili are imitations and some even imported by foreign entrepreneurs.

"We should have a law that protects our tais from imitations," said Reis. She added that the Alola foundation has an original tais Timor collection from every municipality that has been placed in the cultural museum.

Another concern is that many tais weaving groups use imported dyes and cotton for making the tais as opposed to using traditional natural dyes and local cotton when making tais.

Meanwhile National MP Josefa Alvares Pereira Soares said Timor does not in fact have a specific law that protects that tais of Timor and that the government must first determine the origins of tais.

"There is no law yet because to establish the law we must identify our original arts," she said. "Because our art is similar to that of other countries' in Asia," she said.

She added that every municipality has different shape and designs in their tais but the originality has been almost lost because these have been modernized and use foreign production materials such as the dyes and cotton threads used.

"It is a difficult process. It takes much time and effort to weave a tais so many people are not interested anymore. They are looking at easier ways to produce more," said the MP.

In terms of quality and originality the tais should be made using local cotton and threads. The colour dyes should be made using local natural bark and leaves as this will ensure the high quality and durability of the tais.

Meanwhile the Deputy Minister for Commerce, Industry and Environment (MCIE), Filipus Nino Pereira said the government is conducting a study on the origins of tais weaving but has not completed it yet.

The DM added the government would not tolerate entrepreneurs imitating tais for making clothes to be sold in Timor cheaply.

"This will ruin the originality of the tais. It also lowers the value of the tais made traditionally by Timorese women who put much time and effort to weave tais," he said.

DP Pereira added that once the study is complete the government will take the original tais of Timor to register with UNESCO and the United Nations so that it is recognised as an original cultural product of Timor-Leste.

Finally he said the government is also looking at how it can create a law that will protect the originality of tais.

Source: http://www.thediliweekly.com/en/news/development/14198-original-tais-of-timor-leste-endangered