There isn’t much shopping to be done in East Timor, but you should definitely hit up the Tais Market in Dili. But wait, what is tais? Well, good question!
The tais cloth is the traditional art of weaving by the women of East Timor. Tais is used for ceremonial adornment; clothing and as home decor. The technique of tais weaving is passed down by the women from one generation to another. It really is quite beautiful to watch – I luckily had the chance to see a woman weaving when I headed down to the Tais Market.There are so many stalls in the market all selling tais. It’s a bit overwhelming because they essentially all look like the same stalls in different sizes. I was also very aware of the fact that I was the only tourist or customer in the market, so everyone was trying to get me to come into their stall. So I kind of didn’t even spend too much time there and I didn’t take as many pictures as I should have. #bloggerfail In the end, I stopped and bought my tais from the woman above. Who knows, maybe it was a gimmick, but she let me watch her weave for a bit and allowed me to take her picture. She also took the time to explain to me that the tais designs are different from each region of East Timor – the patterns and the imagery all tell a story of sorts that is of significance in that region.
I was told before I went that a tais should be around USD25. You must haggle for it as they will quote a price and you should halve it. I did pick up 3 good sized tais as souvenirs for friends and a couple of smaller table runners. All very different patterns which of course, I stupidly forgot to take pictures of. Except for mine. And you have an excellent model showing the tais that I kept for myself. I love the colors and the pattern. I can’t say I remember which region this tais comes from, but… I came out a happy camper – these were the only things I had bought while in Timor (and err, the only things you could buy, really).
Tais Market is down by the Colmera in Dili. In fact, any reputable taxi driver will know how to get there. Happy shopping!