Traditional Songket Industry of Malaysia on the verge of extinction

By TIN Media | Tourism Malaysia Published 8 months ago on 4 November 2019
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MALAYSIA:

The local songket industry of Malaysia will be extinct in the next few years, if the flow of the Indian songket is not controlled. The greed of some traders importing Indian songkets for huge profits can kill the country's industry which is established since more than 500 years. The history of the local songket began on the east coast in the 15th century started to threaten the dumping of artificial songkets that were brought into the country in large numbers.

Unbeknownst to local songket enthusiasts, there were huge losses when most traders sell low-quality Indian songkets at high prices such as genuine songket for thousands of ringgit.

Some of the tricks used by these traders were to only provide an exclusive box to the buyer potraying the product to be genuine and of high quality when the actual price tends to be less than RM3,000.

Johor Bahru boutique owner Tengku Rosdi Tengku Abdullah revealed the matter and said most people find it difficult to distinguish between these two types of songket as they aren’t distinguishable through the naked eye.

He said Significant differences are used in fabric and thread. The original Terengganu songket uses a gold thread which causes the patterns in the songket to 'rise'.

“Some songket makers use imported gold thread. My late uncle who was known as Tengku Ismail Songket used gold thread from England.

“The result was high quality, hand-woven well-embroidered pattern. That made his songket famous all over the world, ".

Over the past few years, many traders have brought in Indian songkets that use ordinary thread and cloth, but have been sold at premium prices of up to RM20,000.

He said that for the Indian Grade A songket, the actual sale price was only RM900 and the Grade B was around RM500.

“Unfortunately, the Indian songket, either Grade A or Grade B is priced at RM3,000 to over RM20,000. I'm sad to see this happens because it can easily kill the local songket industry.

"There are shops that proudly display this songket for RM17,000 and give special discounts of up to 70 percent to shoppers," he said.

According to him, Kraftangan Malaysia has always maintained the quality of the local songket and among the steps taken is to list all the songkets released. He also said that each local songket had a serial number and handicraft label sewn inside.

He said “Buyers can check the serial number online. However, not all buyers are aware of this. They are interested in purchasing and have the money to purchase genuine songket but are often deceived by greedy traders.

"I hope the authorities will monitor and take action because if this continues, the local songket industry will be buried,".


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