KUCHING: The future generations must be encouraged to take an interest in the art of songket weaving and appreciate its cultural value.
Minister of Tourism, Creative Industry, and Performing Arts Datuk Seri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said it was crucial to preserve and safeguard original songket motifs, elements, and designs which had been passed down through generations.
He said songket was inscribed as an Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) last year.
“For the most part, the production of songket is better highlighted in West Malaysian states of Kelantan and Terrengganu while Sarawak is better known for our pepper.
“So, we are very proud to say that we have songket practitioners in the state who are making Songket Sarawak – a style that is intrinsic to this East Malaysian state,” he said in his speech during the inaugural ICH Humanity & Community Awards at State Legislative Assembly (DUN) building banquet hall on Tuesday night (June 28).
Abdul Karim noted that while songket to most people was just a beautifully woven cloth with gold or silver thread, not many were aware that songket had its own set of patterns.
Adding that those patterns were seen in songket style across regions, he said historically songket was an art form not only practised in Malaysia, but also in the region.
“Although we might not know who exactly first created songket, we do know that the art is practised by people from different areas in the Nusantara region.
“In Malaysia, songket motifs and elements can be inventoried as ICH which will help ensure their original forms remain identifiable.
“As an inventoried ICH, a songket motif like ‘Pucuk Rebung’ will always be identified as ‘Pucuk Rebung’ no matter how it may be incorporated into a digital design or textile pattern.
“Thus, we will be able to safeguard its history and cultural value so its originality is not lost with derivates and variations,” he said.
With songket being seen across different regions, Abdul Karim said its existence could promote and help develop intercultural dialogue which then encouraged mutual respect for different cultures.
He said this ultimately was one of the benefits of having ICH as it allowed people to be cognisant that they are not so different from each other no matter where they came from.
“I would like to personally congratulate the recipients of the ICH Community Awards. We want you to know that your efforts are seen and appreciated.
“We encourage you to inspire those around you to take on the art of songket and to keep doing what you do best,” he said.