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The Songket Motifs - The Design and Memory of the Malay People

Azizi Bahauddin , Aldrin Abdullah

Songket motifs reflect the material artefacts that are embedded with design and memory of the Malay people. Songket is a Malay word which means to bring out or to pull a thread from a background cloth or to weave using gold and silver thread. Historically, the Malay textile art of songket in Malaysia indicates a symbol of royalty as the rulers. Since the independence from the British in 1957, the Malay, the predominant group in Malaysia, carries through the meaningful symbol of the Malay race forward. The supremacy of this race can be seen reflected in and attached to the songket motifs along with the beliefs of animism, Hindu-Buddhism and Islam. The songket motifs appear in forms derived from flora, fauna, food, nature and court related objects, a memory passed on through generations via oral traditions. All of these motifs depict the sensitivity towards elements in the daily life of the Malay people as well as life philosophy, adages, phrases and proverbs that become the guidance for the Malay in managing their life. A strong sense of belonging towards the supremacy of this race in Malaysia dignifies the identity and a superior being of the Malay race in Malaysia seen in songket. The songket motifs highlight the Malay power in a country that is now multi-ethnic, multi-racial, multi religious and multi-lingual. The motifs present an issue of Malaysian identity based on the purity of the Malay race although other foreign influences had played a role in characterizing these people.

Songket, Malay people, memory, motifs, forms, design, identity, supremacy, sense of belonging