Saturday, January 20, 2007

Sabah Craft - Traditional Weave


Lady demonstrating the tenunan or weave using a hand and foot operated frame to produce this pink and gold thread cloth.


Adjusting the pattern layout for the next row of thread before compaction


Working the intricate threads requires much skills and percision to recall the pattern to be embedded onto each line of thread, a mistake would undo countless hours of work and ruin the final cloth.


Partially finished cloth with intricate geometric patterns each with its own symbolism and meaning.

Kota Kinabalu hosted the Sabah arts and craft fest a while back and among the attractions were live demonstration of living cultural items. One of the shows was on tenunan or cloth weaving. The demonstrator was using a wooden hand and foot worked frame to layout the intricately patterned fabric. The man hours to produce this piece of cloth must have taken ages whereas most modern cloth can be woven using a mechanical spindle and loom but the fine artistry inherent in a hand woven cloth is lost in the process. The tenunan is mainly a Mala heritage but is now widely accepted and worn by all Malaysians. The patterns are various but adheres to some of the more common and time handed down techniques like representation of flora designs.

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