Tenun Fashion Week celebrates Southeast Asia’s textile traditions

Abdul Karim (second right) admiring the photo of weavers of Rumah Gare, Kapit presented to him by Bangie (left) as Hii (right) looks on.

KUCHING: The Tenun Fashion Week 2021 held on Oct 15 to 17 celebrated the handwoven textiles and weaving communities of Southeast Asia.

Among the countries that took part were Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

Day One consisted of the Feature: Maybank Women Eco-Weavers (MWEW) programme, fashion showcases and panel discussions with topics such as ‘Innovation in Woven Textiles’ and ‘Patronage and the Woven Cloth’.

There were also fashion showcases on Day Two, panel discussions on ‘The Woven Cloth – Less or More’ and Feature: MWEW Weaving Tales Short Story Winner Reading.

On the final day, there were fashion showcases, fireside chat with master weaver Bangie Embol, Feature: Dreams of Cloth and Colour as well as the closing ceremony.

Sarawak Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah praised the participants, especially the pua kumbu and songket weavers from Ulu Kapit, Gedong, Belawai and Kuching who presented their collections.

“We consider our more than 40 sub-ethnic groups as the core of our culture. The traditions, customs and way of life are truly well-regarded and celebrated by every Sarawakian, young and old.

“It is without a doubt that Sarawak’s textile traditions remain strong. For example, the Ibans and Malays take pride in their pua kumbu, songket and keringkam.

“Moreover, many communities still practice traditional techniques. I’m pleased to see that handlooms are not only still in existence but very much thriving,” he said on Sunday (Oct 17).

Abdul Karim also congratulated the Asean Handicraft Promotion and Development Association (Ahpada) and Tanoti — the co-organisers — for having the foresight and motivation to conceptualise the event as well as hosting it here.

“I also want to commend the Maybank Foundation for its efforts in supporting rural communities throughout Asean through its MWEW programme and for co-sponsoring the project together with the ministry.

“To the 45 weaving communities, the panellists and speakers who have participated, we hope that the interactions you have had with each other were fruitful. 

“We also hope many seeds have been planted during this event, for linkages to be built and collaborations to be forged.

“We look forward to hosting you physically in due course so that together we can catalyse growth in the artisanal crafts industry.

“When the skies reopen, it would be our pleasure to welcome you all to visit Sarawak.”

Also present were ministry permanent secretary Hii Chang Kee, Society Atelier Sarawak advisors Professor Datuk Dr Khairuddin Abdul Hamid and Datin Dayang Mariani Mohd Zain and Ahpada president Edric Ong.