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Young weavers take up songket fabric production in Malaysia
Nov '11
Young weavers are getting trained in the 800-year-old tradition of songket fabric production in Malaysia.

Songket is a fabric belonging to the brocade family of textiles belonging to Malay Archipelago. It is hand-woven in cotton or silk, and intricately patterned with silver or gold threads to give a shimmering effect. The weaving process involves insertion of the metallic threads between the cotton or silk threads.

The tradition of songket weaving, which was once feared to be dying, has got a boost due to the involvement of the Yayasan Tuanku Nur Zahirah contemporary Songket production centre in Kuching, the capital and most populous city of the East Malaysian State of Sarawak.

Since its establishment in 2007, the Kuching-based Songket production centre is working for revival of the hand-woven fabric and to improve the livelihood of artisans associated with the ancient Malaysian craft.

To promote and develop the art of songket-weaving, the centre is imparting training to young weavers, according to Datuk Fatimah Abdullah, Minister of Welfare, Women and Family Development.

She said the centre is also introducing modern designs in the product range while maintaining the originality of production techniques.

She added that the Centre has adopted a marketing strategy that includes working with fashion designers so as to reach high-end market. However, since everything in songket fabric production is handmade, it gives slow economic return.

Currently, 14 weavers averaging 25 years of age are undergoing training in songket production at the centre. Over the next two years, the centre is planning to raise the number of full-time local songket weavers to 50. It is expected that more youth would be attracted to the profession once they are provided proper training, salaries, EPF and other benefits.

Fibre2fashion News Desk - India

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