Weav­ing tra­di­tion into 21st cen­tury

Te­nun Pa­hang fab­ric gets wider at­ten­tion and broader use

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Malaysia Day - By ONG HAN SEAN hansean@th­es­tar.com.my

BATIK and songket are among the tex­tiles Malaysia can boast of, but there is an­other unique fab­ric weav­ing method, while lesser known, that we can take equal pride in -- Te­nun Pa­hang Di­raja.

The fine fab­ric pro­duced in Pa­hang us­ing this cen­turies-old silk weav­ing tech­nique is com­monly worn as sarong, sampin, se­len­dang and other tra­di­tional cloth­ing.

Te­nun Pa­hang re­cently gained recog­ni­tion when Jo­hor princess Tunku Tun Ami­nah Maimu­nah Iskan­dariah Sul­tan Ibrahim wore a dress made from the fab­ric for her wed­ding.

The fab­ric had been given to Tunku Tun Ami­nah by her aunt Tengku Puan Pa­hang Tunku Az­izah Ami­nah Maimu­nah Iskan­dariah Sul­tan Iskan­dar.

Although Te­nun Pa­hang has been around for cen­turies, the in­dus­try only flour­ished lately un­der the pa­tron­age of Tunku Az­izah to the point it was con­ferred royal sta­tus in 2006.

She said re­cently this unique cul­tural her­itage would be lost within a few more years if there were no steps taken to pre­serve it.

As to its ori­gins, In­sti­tut Kemahi­ran Te­nun Pa­hang Di­raja Tengku Am­puan Be­sar Me­riam man­ager Fairuz Hafiezal Rosli said it was be­lieved that a Bugis no­ble­man named Tok Tuan brought the tech­nique to Pa­hang in the 17th cen­tury.

“The tech­nique is be­lieved to have come from Riau or Su­lawesi. There was al­ready silk weav­ing in Pa­hang at that time but the no­ble­man im­proved it and it even­tu­ally be­came known as Te­nun Pa­hang.

“He ex­panded the weav­ing tech­nique and since then, it has been passed down through the gen­er­a­tions as a her­itage of Pa­hang,” he said.

Fairuz said a fea­ture of Te­nun Pa­hang was the thin lines called “sepit udang” that distin­guished it from other types of wo­ven silk.

Among the ba­sic pat­terns pro­duced as Te­nun Pa­hang were hor­i­zon­tal lines and squares be­sides other con­tem­po­rary de­signs, he added.

Fairuz said the mak­ing of Te­nun Pa­hang was a very com­pli­cated process that re­quired plenty of pa­tience.

“The steps in­volved are me­likas, mewarna, men­erai, men­gan­ing, menyusuk, meng­gu­lung, men­garat and mene­nun. It starts from sep­a­rat­ing the silk all the way to weav­ing us­ing the tra­di­tional loom known as kek siam.

“It is time-con­sum­ing work and those who wish to pick up this craft must have pa­tience as a trait. We usu­ally al­low trainees to try it out first to see if they have in­ter­est,” he said.

Tourism and Cul­ture Min­istry deputy sec­re­tary-gen­eral (man­age­ment) Datuk Yean Yoke Heng said Te­nun Pa­hang had un­der­gone an evo­lu­tion and could be ap­plied to mod­ern fash­ion de­sign in line with cur­rent trends and style.

“Be­sides the de­sign, Te­nun Pa­hang Di­raja prod­ucts have also gone through a de­vel­op­ment process in the form of func­tion. It is no longer solely fo­cused on fash­ion but pro­duced for broader pur­pose such as sou­venirs, cor­po­rate gifts and in­te­rior dec­o­ra­tion,” Yean said at the launch of the Pro­jek Kraf Kam­pungku Te­nun Pa­hang Di­raja here last month.

The project in­volved 12 en­trepreneurs from six lo­ca­tions in Pekan with a to­tal of 66 weavers.

Yean said it was hoped that the project could in­crease pro­duc­tion of the hand­i­craft.

“The good re­cep­tion by Te­nun Pa­hang en­trepreneurs to­wards Pro­jek Kraf Kam­pungku shows they are ready to carry Pekan as the main district of Te­nun Pa­hang pro­duc­tion. It will di­rectly help it to be­come the sig­na­ture prod­uct of Pa­hang,” he said.

Tengku Puan Pa­hang Tunku Az­izah (in pink) ob­serv­ing No­raini Mat Lela, 21, work­ing the loom to weave silk us­ing the Te­nun Pa­hang method.

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