First International Songket and Keringkam Exposition and Exhibition gathers regional weavers, entrepreneurs

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By Geryl Ogilvy

KUCHING, Nov 1: Some 20 weavers and entrepreneurs from the region took part in the inaugural “International Songket and Keringkam Exposition and Exhibition” that ended with a fashion show on Wednesday evening.

The two-day expo, featuring works from 11 local community weavers and businesses including six from Indonesia and four from Brunei, was held in conjunction with the 7th Sarawak Malay Culture Seminar on Oct 30-31.

Participants from Sarawak included community weavers from Seri Gedong Songket and Permata Songket from Kpg Gedong, as well as Kumpulan Tenunan Songket, Kpg Rajang.

Others included entrepreneurs from Kpg No. 5 of Jalan Datuk Ajibah Abol, Kpg Lintang, Jalan Merdeka and Tampan Keringkam — all from Kuching.

Brunei exhibitors included Koleksi Husna, Na Forrer Boutique, Syarikat Aniska and Batik Desamas, while Indonesia was represented by weavers from Lombok and five other women entrepreneurs.

Some of the designs from Brunei, which kick-started the fashion show.

Event chairwoman Datu Dr Sabariah Putit, who is also deputy state secretary, said the expo was a result of a collaboration between Projek Inovasi Warisan Sarawak with Old Kuching Kampung Heritage, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas), Tun Abdul Razak Teachers’ Training Institute, Samarahan, and Centexs (Centre of Technical Excellence Sarawak), Kuching, last year.

The expo aimed to preserve and promote the songket and keringkam heritage, which symbolises the Malay textile and civilisation.

“This programme is looking to become the industry catalyst in providing a platform for the marketing, consultation and training services, as well as creating competitiveness for local entrepreneurs and weavers in the digital technology era.

“The exhibition is a start in our efforts to introduce songket and keringkam as a recognise brand at both the national and international level through exhibitions, symposiums, expo, fashion shows and cultural events,” Sabariah said at the event.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg was present at the closing ceremony, where he launched a coffee table book titled “Songket dan Keringkam: Warisan Melayu Sarawak”.

Abang Johari (fifth left) launches the coffee table book at the event.

The book, written by Suhana Sarkawi, Dr Dayang Hanani Abang Ibrahim and Dr Nadianatra Musa, features the uniqueness of the beautiful handwoven Sarawak songket and keringkam embroidery unfolded in an in-depth study that included their history, applications, motifs, philosophy and product innovations.

The coffee table book is divided into a few chapters named after the Sarawak Malay textile motifs and published under Unimas Publisher and copyrighted by the Sarawak government.

“This whole project is to keep the traditional uniqueness of songket and keringkam preserved, enjoyed and appreciated by future generations through Centexs.

“Efforts to develop this industry includes effective marketing, commercialisation, research, publication and management of patterns and intellectual property rights.” — DayakDaily