Calendar Pages -- Lecture By: Kim Jane Saunders - The Peranakan Museum Singapore

March 06th, 2014

Lecture By: Kim Jane Saunders - The Peranakan Museum Singapore

     Textile Enthusiasts Group

     Floating Fibres, Golden Threads: The world of Southeast Asian Songket -

     By: Kim Jane Saunders

     Date: Thursday, 6 March 2014,

    Time: 10:30 am (please arrive by 10:15 am)

    Venue: Lecture Room @ The Peranakan Museum

    Address: 39 Armenian Street, Singapore 179941

    Rsvp: Digna  email - 


            Throughout Southeast Asia three main techniques dominate the decoration of locally produced textiles. One is ikat, a tie and dye technique, in which either the weft threads, the warp threads or in the case of Balinese  Kain Geringsing, both warp and weft threads are tied and dyed with a pattern before weaving.  The second is Batik, a wax resist dyeing technique in which cloth is decorated with a wax pattern, dyed, rewaxed and redyed until the desired colour palette is achieved.
The third is songket, a supplementary weaving technique, whereby the pattern is created during the weaving process by using a supplementary thread, either gold or silver thread or coloured silks.
            Songket or Sungkit  is undoubtedly the most sumptuous and is a traditional technique which is well known in Malaysia, Indonesia, particularly Sumatra and Bali, and Brunei. The word songket is believed to be derived from the Malay word menyongket which refers to embroidering with gold or silver thread but in fact the technique is a woven one using supplementary threads that float above and below the base threads on the loom.
            Songket belongs to the brocade family.  Its origins are not well documented but it is known to have existed in Peninsular Malaysia since the 13thand 14th centuries, a time of very active trade and exchange between East and West. Common belief is that the technique may well have originated in India and spread via the Sumatran kingdoms of Palembang and Jambi when the Sri Vijayan thalassocracy was at its zenith.  Once the preserve of the nobility and the very wealthy it is still a popular choice for important celebrations, especially weddings.  As a result, contemporary production of songket is still a vibrant feature of Southeast Asian textile traditions today.

About Kim Jane Saunders:
Kim a member of Patterns of Trade research team who generously given TEG a private tour during the POT exhibition at ACM and the author of Contemporary Tie and Dye Textiles of Indonesia OUP (1997) and contributing author in Tenun: Handwoven Textiles of Indonesia (2011).  Her passion for textiles began in the National Museum, Jakarta, Indonesia whilst serving as Chairman of the Indonesian Heritage Society.  As an historian and teacher she has worked with the educational travel and tourism industry in Asia for the last twenty years, promoting awareness and appreciation for locally produced contemporary Southeast Asian textiles.  She leads expeditions and lectures regularly to international specialist interest groups. Her own textile teaching collection continues to grow.

Although this Lecture is not a Thai Textile Society Event, the society is dedicated to the study and appreciation of textiles, with particular emphasis on the textiles of Thailand and Southeast Asia. TTS encourages all interested in Textiles to support this lecture of the Singapore Textile Enthusiasts Group.