May 05, 2011 18:03 PM
Songket Melaka Adds Prestige To Historical State
By Fadzli Ramli
MELAKA, May 5 (Bernama) -- Traditionally, the songket, the luxurious textile hand-woven in silk or cotton and intricately patterned with gold or silver threads, is an exclusive artwork from Kelantan and Terengganu.
Now, Melaka, a state in the west coast, aims to be part of the songket's legacy with its own unique brand of songket bunga kesidang.
The songket is the brainchild of Yang Dipertua Negeri Melaka Tun Mohd Khalil Yaakob, who wanted to ensure that Melaka had a songket of its own. In fact, the songket is already most commonly associated with the state.
The motif chosen for the songket was based on the bunga kesidang (Vallaris Glabara), the bread flower, which is also the state's official flower.
In 2004, the Institut Seni Malaysia Melaka (ISMMA) was tasked with designing the songket using the bunga kesidang motif and ensuring that it qualified as the Songket Melaka.
The institute was also entrusted with ensuring that Songket Melaka was on par with the songkets from Kelantan and Terengganu.
THE SONGKET MELAKA'S DESIGN
ISMMA's manager, Noor Azlina Yunus, told Bernama that the institute started designing the songket about six years ago using the expertise of two cultural icons, Malaysia's Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Tapa and Bapak Tenas Effendy from Indonesia.
She noted that the songket basically has four parts: a body, head, kapit and legs. Both experts, she said, decided on the most suitable design for each part.
"Each part of the songket has its own motif and reason for why it is there," she explained.
Azlina revealed that the work of designing the patterns on the songket took about a year before a 'prototype' was made for the approval of Mohd Khalil.
After getting the nod from Mohd Khalil, ISMMA searched for the best weaver to ensure that Melaka entered the world of songket-making in style.
ISMMA compared the work quality of weavers from Terengganu, Indonesia and Selangor. After a thorough scrutiny of woven work from the three states, a company in Selangor was awarded the task of weaving the songket.
"It is not that ISMMA did not want to weave the songket itself; rather, it was done to ensure the highest weaving quality and we wanted the skills of an expert weaver before taking on the task ourselves," she said.
ISMMA is currently learning the art of songket weaving to create high quality songket bunga kesidang.
In pursuit of this goal, ISMMA has sent some of its staffers on an exchange programme to a weaving handicraft agency in Indonesia.
"We always send young staffers on such exchange programmes. We want to expose them to the art of songket weaving, as well as ensure that this art form is handed down to future generations," she explained.
So far, two types of songket bunga kesidang are available, namely the samping (short sarong worn over the trousers) for men and the textile set, and sash for women.
The hand-woven songket made of silk can sell for RM 2,500, while the one made of polyester material fetches RM650. However, a machine-made songket is much cheaper at RM250.
A hand-woven songket made of silk, in the form of sarongs and sashes, can sell for RM3,000.
TAKING MELAKA'S SONGKET TO THE WORLD
Since 2009, ISMMA has been promoting the songket bunga kesidang locally, starting with official state government functions.
"Currently, members of the public are encouraged to wear the Songket Melaka at official state events, like the investiture ceremony," he said.
ISMMA has plans to market the songket overseas. In addition, the Malay Islamic World Secretariat (DMDI) has been identified as the agency with the capability to market the songket on the international stage.
On 6 Dec, 2008, Bollywood star Datuk Shah Rukh Khan wore the samping Songket Melaka sponsored by ISMMA when he received the Darjah Mulia Seri Melaka (DMSM) award. The award gives official recognition to songkets unique to the state.
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