In search of threads to weave songket


KUCHING: The state government will be sending a mission to Turkey in search of threads suitable to be used in keringkam and songket.

Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg said he was informed by patron of the Sarawak Heritage Innovation Project: Songket and KeringKam, Datuk Amar Puan Sri Juma’ani Tun Tuanku Bujang that the main challenge faced by practitioners was the lack of supply for thread.

“She told me that Turkey has threads that can be used for songket and keringkam. She pointed out that the threads must be of good quality so that it would not easily break during the weaving process.

“So, I will be sending a mission to find out whether there are such threads in Turkey and then we will import them,” he said during the inaugural Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) Humanity & Community Awards at the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) building banquet hall on Tuesday night (June 28).

Abang Johari revealed that the state government was planning to set up songket centres across Sarawak which offered space for production, education, and training.

He said this would not only boost the local economy but also provide a place for each community to familiarise themselves with the art of songket.

Premier Sarawak Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg (fifth left) and wife Puan Sri Datuk Amar Juma’ani Tun Tuanku Bujang (fourth left) with from left Datuk Fatimah Mohd Iskandar, Datin Seri Zuraini Abdul Jabbar, Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Minister Datuk Seri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, DUN Speaker Tan Sri Datuk Amar Mohamad Asfia Awang Nassar, International Information and Networking Centre for Cultural Heritage in the Asia-Pacific Region under the auspices of UNESCO (ICHCAP) Director General Kim Jisung and others having a photograph taken with the Songket practitioners after reciiving the ‘Sandang Warisan’ awards. Photo: Ramidi Subari

He also said the state encouraged songket or other cultural items like pua kumbu as an industry.

“The songket centres can then become cooperatives which help market Songket Sarawak as a product. This will allow communities to sustain their songket industry in their own districts and be creative about how they want to market their songket,’’ he added.

Abang Johari pointed out that while production was important, without a market, songket would remain stagnant from an economic point of view.

He said one of the ways to help with demand was by using songket during state functions or officials and promote its use during traditional performances like silat or dance exhibits.

“The advantage of songket lies with the fact that it can be incorporated into many things as it is not limited to attires or clothing elements. It does not have to be just a samping or sarong. In fact, songket cloth and motifs can be used on merchandise like purses or face masks and even passport covers or table runners.

“Moreover, songket motifs can be digitalised too and the creative industry has the chance to contribute to the sustainability of songket by innovating as well as digitalising songket motifs in their designs,” he said.

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