Sunday March 10, 2013
Pictures courtesy of the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia
Here is a visual guide to the different textile arts on display at the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia:
LIMAR is a single weft-ikat textile once woven principally in Terengganu and Kelantan, Palembang in South Sumatra, and southern Thailand. Woven only of silk in plain or twill weave, limar is the preserve of nobility as it employs costly materials and its manufacture is especially tedious. It can be enhanced with supplementary gold threads, creating limar bersongket, or gold leaf weaving, producing limar bertelepuk. Limar has become virtually obsolete in Malaysia as many limar practitioners have died and no written historical documentation exists on its traditional manufacture.
TENUN, woven of silk or cotton, features mainly striped or checkered patterns. Traditionally, the weave was used to produce cloth worn as sarongs, but today, tenun is also woven as yard fabric that can be fashioned into clothes and decorative items. Tenun weaving began as a cottage industry, mainly in Terengganu, Kelantan and Pahang. Now known as the royal weave of Pahang, Tenun is thought to have been introduced to the Malay peninsula in the 16th century by Tok Tuan Keraing Aji, a master weaver from Sulawesi who immigrated to Pahang.
KELINGKAN is an embroidery technique that uses metallic ribbon. (In Sarawak, it is known as keringkam.) Before the embroidery work begins, the base fabric undergoes a starching process to stiffen it. Motifs may then be traced onto the fabric with a pencil. A wooden frame is used to stretch the fabric tightly before metallic ribbon is sewn through the textile repeatedly, in a stitch known as tikam tembus. Kelingkan embroidery can be done directly onto a piece of fabric, or in a patchwork style, whereby the embroidery is prepared on a different cloth, such as gauze before being transferred onto another fabric, such as satin or silk. Lastly, the embroidery is flattened with a smooth object, such as stone or cowry shell.
SONGKET, woven of silk or cotton, with supplementary metallic yarns, is the ceremonial fabric of choice during royal installations, formal and state functions, as well as Malay weddings. In the past, only royalty and nobility were allowed to wear songket, but by the mid 20th century, these rules had slowly diminished. In Malaysia, songket is produced mainly in Terengganu and Kelantan.
TEKAT TIMBUL is a form of raised couched embroidery also known as tekat suji. It is one of the most well-known forms of traditional embroidery in Malaysia. It is used to decorate items associated with palaces and special events such as coronations, weddings and the reception of royal guests. In most cases, it is embroidered on velvet to compensate for the weight of the embroidery and to elevate the lavishness of the item.
TELEPUK is another method of decorating Malay textiles with gold, in particular gold leaf. The textile first undergoes a process called gerus, or calendering, whereby it is rubbed with beeswax and a cowry shell to produce a flat and shiny surface, before the gold leaf can be applied. Glue is then applied on a carved wood or metal block and pressed onto the textile. A piece of thin, gold leaf is then pasted onto the glued areas and left to dry. Once the glue has dried, the gold leaf is brushed off to reveal the motif.