Sarawak Series 5

Organized by Badan Warisan Malaysia.

Live Webinar Details
Date: Thursday, 23 June 2022
Time: 5:00 PM (Kuala Lumpur, GMT+8)
Topic: Traditional Textiles and Costumes
Speaker: Dr. Welyne Jehom
Moderator: Jacqueline Fong
Venue: Virtual – Zoom Webinar
Free Admission

About The Talk

The earliest evidence of textiles in Sarawak are fragments associated with burials recovered from the Niah Cave where prehistoric human lived 40,000 years ago. And the earliest material known to be used for clothing was tree bark that cut across the Indigenous communities in Sarawak. Beaten bark fibre from the wild breadfruit tree (Artocarpus elasticus) which bears different names in the Indigenous communities was made into loincloths, skirts and sleeveless vests. The beaten tree bark decorated with painted, stencilled or appliqué designs in cotton or with shells, glass beads and feathers. And then, the introduction of the backstrap loom, probably from India through the maritime trade, and the cultivation of cotton called taya (Gossypium spp.), amongst the Iban brought a creation of distinctive Indigenous hand woven textiles.

The pua kumbu textile woven on the backstrap loom by the Iban women is Sarawak’s most exquisite as it carries their worldview, foklores and stories which made pua kumbu as the canvas of documentations. Important textile produced by the Malays is kain songket created on a frame loom using gold or silver coated supplementary threads over silk or cotton threads to form decorative motifs. Another special technique called keringkam, woven by employing silver or gold plated thread to embroider fine voile cotton. These creations are used in head scarves for the women. Despite the differences in social backgrounds and cultural environment, these textile in Sarawak has becoming an important cultural material that unite the different ethnicities because of its respective uniqueness and history on top of the beauty of its creation.

About The Speaker

Dr. Welyne Jeffrey Jehom is an anthropologist by training and have involved in research on issues related to displaced communities, community development and Indigenous knowledge. She is currently a senior lecturer at the Department. of Anthropology & Sociology, Faculty of Arts and Social Science, Universiti Malaya. Her primary research is focusing on community-driven development project that includes the applications of Indigenous knowledge as tools for the community livelihood development in the circular economy on community-based cultural and knowledge conservation by engaging the makers, artisans and women to actively participate in the projects.

About The Moderator

After having practised investment banking for 18 years over different locations – Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta and East Malaysia – Jacqueline Fong retired from her career to focus on entrepreneurship in her home state of Sarawak.

Jackie founded Tanoti with the objectives to preserve heritage craft, empower women and build rural communities. From a community of 11 weavers when it started in 2012, Tanoti today engages with 480 artisans residing in 25 rural and remote communities across Sarawak, working to progress the craft industry through capacity building, design and advocacy. Tanoti is acknowledged as an Emerging Craft Community by the Sarawak State Government, and has won several local and international accolades for its craft, including the World Crafts Council Award of Excellence in Craft in 2014 and 2016, as well as the ASEAN Silk Textile Contest in 2019.

Jackie is also the current President of Society Atelier Sarawak. Through her work with Tanoti and the Society, she advocates for traditional crafts and the communities that produce them.