|Place of origin||Selaru Island of Tanimbar Islands (originally), Maluku Islands and East Nusa Tenggara Islands (in Timor Island; divided into West Timor of Indonesia and Timor Leste)|
|Manufacturer||Indonesians and Maubere|
Tais is a form of Tenun weaving tradition native to the eastern Indonesian regions of the Maluku Islands, the Tanimbar Islands, and the East Nusa Tenggara Islands (in Timor Island, the political government divided into West Timor of Indonesia and Timor Leste). It has become an essential part of people in the eastern Indonesia hemisphere region (as well as Maubere people in Timor Leste), which mainly used for ceremonial adornment, sign of respect and appreciation towards guests, friends, relatives, home decor, and personal apparel.
Since 2012, Tais officially recognized by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Research, and Technology of Republic Indonesia as integral part of the National Intangible Cultural Heritage of Indonesia.
Etymologically, the term tais is Selaru in origin, which is a corrupted form of tapis taken from Lampung, derived from tapih in Old Javanese. It literally means "cloth" or "fabric" (to cover body parts) in general.
The imagery and patterns of tais vary greatly from region to region, but they often include messages of locale and significant events. Imagery often includes animals such as the crocodile, upon which the creation legend of the island is based. Geometric patterns known as kaif are also employed in most tais.
Styles of tais worn on the body are differentiated by gender: men traditionally wear the tais mane (or "man's cloth"), a single large wrap around the waist usually finished with tassels. Women wear the tais feto ("women's cloth"), a form of strapless dress woven in the shape of a tube. A third type known as the selendang, a slender cloth worn around the neck, has become popular in recent years.
Using mostly cotton threads, the cloth is created during the island's dry season, almost entirely by hand. The use of cotton is a legacy of the Portuguese colonial era, when Timor was an important port for the trade in the material. Synthetic fibers like rayon, acrylic and polyester are becoming more common as they are imported more cheaply into East Timor. A single tais can take anywhere from several days to a year, depending on the complexity of design and variety of colors used.
Dyes are used to create bright colors in the tais; these are mixed from plants like taun, kinur, and teka. Other dyes are derived from mango skin, potato leaf, cactus flowers, and turmeric. Individuals skilled in mixing dyes are sometimes compared to alchemists, using traditional recipes for creating desired colors. Although colors carry different associations from village to village, red is often used predominantly, as it is connected to long life and courage, in addition to being the base of the East Timorese flag. When the United Nations became the administering power in East Timor from 1999 to 2002, tais markets increased production of blue fabrics to match that organization's trademark flag.
One of the most common tools for tais weaving is the back-strap loom, which allows tension on the cloth while the warp is manipulated. The pressure from the strap and the time required for the intricate designs on many tais produce significant pain for many women. During the 1999 wave of violence known in East Timor as "Black September", many tais weavers saw their tools and equipment stolen or destroyed. Recent years have also seen a decline in the number of young women learning traditional methods of tais weaving.
Designs, colors, and styles of tais production vary greatly in each of East Timor's thirteen districts. In the enclave of Oecussi-Ambeno, Portuguese influence is most apparent, with floral and religious imagery predominating alongside subdued shades of black, orange, and yellow. In the capital city Dili, by contrast, bright colors and solid panels reflect the focus on tais commerce.
In the district of Ermera, black-and-white designs are most common, reflecting the royalty of the traditional leaders, who often lived in the area. The village of Manufahi produces tais with certain common animal themes, specifically the lizard and pig.
Tais of Tanimbar Islands
((cite journal)): Cite journal requires