PEKAN: A member of the Pahang royal family, Tengku Ampuan Mariam, played an important role way back in 1904 in helping to boost the fine art of tenun Pahang which started from Kampung Mengkasar and spread out to several villages and districts.
The silk tenun Pahang was then worn by the royal family members, aristocrats and the state’s high-ranking officials.
Mariam's initiative is now being taken over by the present Tengku Puan Pahang Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah who is known to have a penchant for handicraft works and needlework.
This was mentioned by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak in his speech at the ground-breaking ceremony of the Pahang Royal Weaving Skills Institute performed by Sultan of Pahang Sultan Ahmad Shah at Pulau Keladi, near here, recently.
Najib congratulated Tunku Azizah, who was present with Tengku Mahkota Pahang Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, for her efforts and commitment to bring back the glory of tenun Pahang.
Najib, who is Pekan MP, also said his own late father, Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, had encouraged the Pahang Tenggara Development Board, back in 1974, to revive the industry.
“I will now continue this effort to ensure that tenun Pahang is turned into an industry which the people can be proud of and something the entrepreneurs can benefit from,” he added.
The RM12mil institute, is expected to open its doors by next year’s end and can train up to 100 students per intake on the traditional weaving techniques. It offers certificate and diploma courses.
The institute, according to Najib, was aimed at producing more tenun Pahang weavers and entrepreneurs and boosting the demand for this traditional hand-woven cloth.
He added that tenun Pahang could be at par with the famous Thai Jim Thompson silk in terms of quality.
“This is not impossible if all parties who are involved in the industry have the commitment and passion to make it work,” he said.
He recommended the setting up of a task force that involved representatives from the Culture, Arts and Heritage Ministry, Malaysian Handi-craft Corporation, Pahang government and individuals who were connected with the industry.
As a marketing strategy, Najib suggested that the Pahang government introduce the use of tenun Pahang as an official attire or something similar to the practise of wearing batik shirts twice a month among the civil servants in a move to increase demand.
He noted that the industry had existed about a century ago in Pahang but its development had been less remarkable because there were only six entrepreneurs and 78 weavers.
Last year’s sales brought in RM181,150.
On ways to increase production, Najib said he had asked the Malaysian Handicraft Corporation to look into the technical aspect of producing the material right from the start up to the end without compromising the traditional features and quality.
The village is also the birthplace of Najib’s father and the nation's second prime minister Abdul Razak.
The house where Abdul Razak was born is still intact and is one of the attractions of Pulau Keladi.
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