Songket industry faces challenge to revitalise craft

Image by Peggy Reeves Sanday

The songket industry is facing a challenge in revitalising the art of songket weaving due to the reluctance by younger generations, said Faculty of Applied And Creative Arts deputy dean University Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) Dr June Ngo Siok Kheng.

Dr June who is also Yayasan Tuanku Nur Zahirah (YTNZ), Textile Design and Production director said the number of songket weavers has dwindled recently due to the rather limited usage of songket and the unwillingness of younger women to get involved in the craft.

“The craft of songket weaving may one day diminish if our younger generation is no longer interested in the profession, as it is perceived to be time-consuming and boring,” she said while presenting her paper at the “A Celebration Of South East Asia Textiles” seminar at the National Museum yesterday.

YTNZ is a foundation under royal patronage which aims to preserve and enhance indigenous craft and heritage while helping to improve the livelihoods of artisans, weavers and craftspeople.

Earlier, Department of Museums Malaysia director-general Datuk Ibrahim Ismail launched the one-day seminar in conjunction with the textile carnival and exhibition, participated by researchers, textile activists and lecturers from Malaysia, Indonesia, Laos, Australia, Philippines and Thailand.

Dr June pointed out that other challenges faced by the songket weaving cottage industry were competition from the machine made songket, the inability to compete in price and quantity and fulfilling the needs of today’s trend conscious consumers.

“I believe, in order to sustain the craft of Songket, we must have full support from the community to purchase and wear the songket…and be proud of it as well, ” she told Bernama.

– Bernama