'Threading Hope' exhibit in KL spotlights regional weaving traditions


A weaver from Rumah Gare in Sarawak showcasing the intricate weaving process at the 'Threading Hope' exhibition at Balai Seni Maybank. Photo: Balai Seni Maybank

If you want to try your hand at weaving, here’s your chance at Balai Seni Maybank’s Threading Hope: A Maybank Women Eco-Weavers Exhibition, which runs until Dec 9.

Four Iban weavers from Rumah Gare in Sarawak will be at the gallery daily to showcase their skills on the loom and to answer any questions from visitors. You can even get some hand-on experience at weaving with the weavers showing you what to do.

The exhibition’s key focus is the weaving technique of pua kumbu by the Iban community in Sarawak, but its 300 items on display also include other woven products and techniques from the region.

There are also items (such as shawls, scarfs, purses and bags) available for purchase.

The e-book version of 'Weaving Communities, Transforming Lives: An Asean Story' will be available in 2023. Photo:HandoutThe e-book version of 'Weaving Communities, Transforming Lives: An Asean Story' will be available in 2023. Photo:Handout

Pua kumbu is a warp-patterned ceremonial cloth woven by Iban women on a backstrap loom. Traditionally, these textiles were used in sacred ceremonies and rites of passage such as births, marriages and funerals, as well as healing and farming rituals.

Pua kumbu's origin story follows the tale of an Iban hunter who shot a beautiful bird with his blowpipe. As he ran to retrieve the fallen bird, he found in its place an intricately woven skirt belonging to the daughter of the Iban God of War, Singalang Burong.

The designs and motifs of pua kumbu are influenced by dreams experienced by the weavers. It is said that if a weaver dreams the same dream three times, she is obligated to weave that dream.

Woven pieces showcasing the the Pua Kumbu technique of the Iban community from Sarawak. Photo: Balai Seni MaybankWoven pieces showcasing the the Pua Kumbu technique of the Iban community from Sarawak. Photo: Balai Seni Maybank

Concurrently with this exhibition, Maybank has launched a book titled Weaving Communities, Transforming Lives: An Asean Story, which consolidates narratives, backgrounds and stories from the people behind the Maybank Women Eco-Weavers programme across Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia and Laos.

The book provides readers with a visual experience of textile weaving in these countries.

An e-book version is scheduled for early 2023, with proceeds going to the Maybank Women Eco-Weavers beneficiary partners.

The Maybank Women Eco-Weavers programme, endorsed and supported by the Asean Secretariat, aims to preserve the region’s cultural heritage, create economic empowerment primarily for women, and contribute towards building the Asean identity.

Threading Hope is on at Balai Seni Maybank (Menara Maybank, Jalan Tun Perak in KL) till Dec 9. Opening hours: 9am to 5pm (Monday to Friday). Free admission.

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