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Weavers’ Stories: Margareta Taub Kapitan

Margareta Taub Kapitan’s success as the leader of a women’s weaving group in the district of Insana is intimately connected with the sweeping political changes that overtook rural Indonesia during the Suharto era (1967–1998). The Suharto government established a new system, appointing village headmen throughout the country who were ultimately responsible to Jakarta rather than to local traditional rulers. In 1969 Margareta’s husband became the first headman of their village, which automatically made her the leader of the women’s family welfare group. Margareta seized this opportunity to promote weaving as a means of boosting women’s income.

She could not have succeeded in this endeavor without her intelligence and extraordinary force of personality. She stood out so much as a student in the local primary school that she became the first girl to be sent to a distant town for secondary education. When her husband was given an opportunity for training on a distant island, the couple set out for the port of Kupang—a seven-day journey on foot. After raising a family, she invented new styles of weaving and became the first to teach weaving as a part of the family welfare movement. Now in her seventies, Margareta’s charisma is still evident when she leads the women of her group in a spirited dance.

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