Sarawak brings songket legacy to the world

Abang Johari (fifth right) shows the ‘Songket and Keringkam: Warisan Melayu Sarawak’ coffee table book during the launch. Also seen are Juma’ani (seventh right), Awang Tengah (fourth right), Abdul Karim (third right), Morshidi (right) and Sabariah (sixth right). — Photos by Muhammad Rais Sanusi

KUCHING: Sarawak is bringing its songket legacy to the forefront, specifically to the world through ‘Inovasi Warisan Sarawak: Songket dan Keringkam’ (Sarawak Heritage Innovation: Songket and Keringkam) project.

Deputy State Secretary Datu Dr Sabariah Putit, who is the project chairperson, viewed it as one of the ways to uphold the songket and ‘keringkam’ legacy so that their traditional uniqueness could be preserved and cherished by future generations.

A model walks down the runway wearing a contemporary songket ensemble.

“In addition to expos and tourism and culture events, efforts to protect and preserve Sarawak’s treasures are also being expanded through the ‘Songket Weaving and Keringkam Embroidery Technical Training Programme’ at the Centre of Technical Excellence (Centexs).

“This endeavour also provides exposure towards effective marketing, commercialisation, research, publication and management of copyrights and intellectual property rights to songket and ‘keringkam’ industry players in Sarawak and overseas,” she spoke at ‘Malam Persona Songket and Keringkam Antarabangsa 2018’ event involving Sarawak, Brunei and Indonesia, which was declared open by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg here on Wednesday.

Sabariah said the ‘Inovasi Warisan Sarawak: Songket dan Keringkam’ project also comes with a Sarawak Heritage Innovation website platform, aimed at promoting songket and ‘keringkam’ products in the e-commerce sector.

According to her, the project – where Abang Johari’s wife Datin Patinggi Datuk Amar Juma’ani Tuanku Bujang serves as its patron – is a joint venture between Old Kuching Kampung Heritage, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas), Tun Abdul Razak Teachers Training Institute, and Centexs with Sarawak’s songket and ‘keringkam’ community – running since June last year.

Those wishing to learn more about the rich history of the beautiful handwoven Sarawak songket and ‘keringkam’ embroidery arts could now turn to a coffee table book entitled ‘Songket dan Keringkam: Warisan Melayu Sarawak (Songket and Keringkam: Sarawak Malay Heritage).

Written by Suhana Sarkawi, Dr Dayang Hanani Abang Ibrahim and Dr Nadianatra Musa, the book was launched by Abang Johari during the ‘Songket & Keringkam Antarabangsa 2018’ event.

In the book, the uniqueness of Sarawak songket and ‘keringkam’ unfolds an in-depth study that includes the history, application, motifs, philosophy and also product innovations.

According to Sabariah, this innovative project is aimed at preserving the traditional and unique textiles to ensure that the future generation would appreciate this heritage and that it would not be forgotten.

The ‘Songket and Keringkam: Warisan Melayu Sarawak’ book is published by Unimas and copyrighted by the Sarawak government.

During the event, guests were also treated to a fashion show where the traditional songket and ‘keringkam’ works were transformed into stylish contemporary outfits.

Deputy Chief Minister III Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan; Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah; State Secretary Tan Sri Datuk Amar Mohamad Morshidi Abdul Ghan; Indonesian Consul-General in Kuching Yonny Tri Prayitno; and Brunei Consul-General in Sarawak Pengiran Kartini Pengiran Tahir were also present at the event.