Bunga lado songket to preserve Negri’s identity


Iconic: The Negri Sembilan songket will be revived with the motif of bunga lado, one of the nine identities in the state. — Bernama

SEREMBAN: The Negri Sembilan songket (traditional fabric) is set for a revival, featuring the iconic bunga lado (pepper flower) motif, one of the nine distinctive identities of the state.

Spearheading this cultural resurgence is Mohd Khairil Hisham Mohd Ashaari, the curator of Tuanku Ja’afar Royal Gallery, who underlined the significance of this initiative to honour and preserve Negri Sembilan’s art and culture.

Around 1998, the Adat Perpatih state’s songket gained recognition, featuring motifs inspired by carvings and plants.

In this contemporary initiative and through a collaboration with the Prisons Department aimed at crafting high-quality songket, the spotlight will be on the distinct identity of bunga lado.

“Inspiration for this concept came during the Covid-19 pandemic movement control order.

“It was during this period that we conceptualised a distinctive pattern featuring the pepper flower.

“Taking the idea further, I reached out to a contact in Terengganu, seeking collaboration to produce a songket adorned with this unique floral motif.

“Following that, we visited a prison in Kelantan to acquire insights into the craft of songket making.

“We plan to produce it at the Jelebu Prison, as we aim for the songket to be crafted within the state,” he told Bernama.

Mohd Khairil added that the songket’s smooth texture exhibits distinct patterns on the front and back, making it suitable for various styling options.

He said there are also plans to create a unique songket pattern aligned with the identity of the four luak (clans) in the state, incorporating the distinctive bunga lado motif.

“Each luak has its own identity but the basic motif remains bunga lado. So, the design will be based on the carvings and identity of each luak,” he said.

Mohd Khairil said the bunga lado motif, characterised by its white colour, petals, five stamens, and stigma, serves as a symbolic representation of the state’s uniqueness, particularly its association with spicy cuisine.

The leaves symbolise the people of the state, the five petals symbolise the five pillars of Islam and the five pillars of the nation.

The five stamen or benang sari represent Undang Yang Empat – Undang Sungai Ujong, Undang Jelebu, Undang Johol Undang Rembau and the Tuanku Besar Tampin.

The stigma symbolises the Yang di-Pertuan Besar.

He said the gallery was also actively promoting other identities including women’s traditional clothing via the Baju Kebaya Setengah Tiang, a long top matched with a batik sarong.

Mohd Khairil said this outfit and the bunga lado songket would be exhibited at the Tuanku Jaa’far Gallery on Feb 23.

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