Nothing says tropical holiday quite like a hand-woven hammock which evokes thoughts of bleached white beaches, dream-filled siestas, sea-breeze cocktails and star-gazing nights.
There’s something magical about being suspended in mid-air; the hammock’s gentle swaying calms your thoughts, settles your heartbeat, and lulls you into reverie or slumber. That’s true whether you’re beachside in Koh Samui or nested in a goose down comforter someplace cold, daydreaming about a good hammock swing.
And yet, unlike Central and South America, Asia has no hammock-making tradition. That is set to change now, thanks to the persistence of Daniel Elber, whose non-profit Future for Children has been changing the lives of the poorest communities in the drought-prone mountain slopes of eastern Bali.
Daniel was looking for new ways to provide a sustainable livelihood for the women of Muntigunung, whose sole source of income was begging in Bali’s more prosperous tourist areas. Could their basket-weaving skills be re-imagined for making hammocks, he wondered?
That’s how one master hammock-maker Walter Cruz from El Salvador —the ‘Land of the Hammocks’ (and considered to produce the best in the world) spent three months in the remote village of Kulkul, teaching his ancestral craft to 35 mountain women. And while they had no common language — he spoke Spanish and they a Balinese dialect — what they now share is an uncommon ability to craft absolutely stunning hammocks.
Muntigunung now makes a range of high-end hand-woven hammocks that are arguably the best in Asia. Top of the range is the Agung, which has twin spreaders of elaborately carved camphor-wood, is embellished with crocheted lace, and can incorporate customised lettering (such as a house or person’s name) — statement-making perfection for upmarket rental villas or private residences.
Lighter and less expensive is the chongos-tassle-decorated Muntigunung, which is as stylish but, without the spreaders, will even go into your hand luggage. If you prefer a more upright seating position to lying supine, the chair hammock will appeal — it looks as good in a living room as by the pool.
There are also custom hammocks and chair hammocks, and anyone with a tiny tot in the family will find the baby hammock irresistible. These incredibly comfortable artisan hammocks are so much more than an alternative seating choice or lifestyle accessory. Each is an individual work of art, and each requires not hours but weeks to make… patiently and painstakingly by hand, with pride. If that is not enough incentive to acquire one, then think of this: with every purchase, you are providing an income for the women of Muntigunung and a means for them to raise their self-esteem, support their families and better their lives.
Doesn’t your home — or Bali vacation villa — deserve to be graced by a beautiful hand-woven Muntigunung hammock?
The hammocks cost from IDR800,000 to IDR2.2 million and weigh from 2.5 to 4.8 kilos. If this is beyond the budget, do consider buying another Muntigunung product, for example a beautiful hand-woven basket, or an artisanal cashew-nut or rosella snack.
Or contribute by going on the award-winning Muntigunung Trek, and see for yourself the hammocks being made. Whatever you choose, every sale helps the people of Muntigunung get access to water, healthcare, education and fair-pay jobs.
Elite Havens Luxury Villa Rentals supports Muntigunung Community Social Enterprise and their life-changing initiatives to liberate from poverty over 6,000 people in 36 remote villages in north-east Bali.
We invite our villa partners and guests to join us in helping to create sustainable social change among Bali’s most vulnerable communities by purchasing their quality handicrafts and artisanal snacks, and booking the exclusive Muntigunung trek.