FROM December 1-3 last year, with the support from World Crafts Council Asia Pacific (AHPADA) and Kraftangan Malaysia, Edric Ong, the president of Atelier Society Sarawak, successfully organised the World IKAT Textiles Symposium, themed ‘Ties that Bind’ in Kuching.
Speakers and delegates from 25 countries shared their weaving techniques, traditional designs and motif weaved in the textile with tales of story as well as modern contemporary designs from younger designers.
Textiles from South East Asia, Central America, South America and our own, Sarawak, were put on exhibition for two weeks at Pullman Hotel Kuching.
Crafts bazaars from Thailand, Indonesia, India, Uzbekistan, and many others were set up, with their creative talents of weaved textile, such as table-runner, shawl, wrap, bags, jacket, on sale.
Not forgetting the workshop for those that want to learn and have interest in weaving, basketry and natural dyes.
The Iban ‘Pua Kumbu’ ikat textile was acknowledged and awarded by the Unesco, for its finest wrap ikat textiles woven on the back strap floor loom by one of the Iban weavers, Bangie Anak Embol, from Rumah Garie Longhouse in Kapit.
The ‘Pua Kumbu’ is not just an important cultural asset of the Iban community but also gives Sarawak a distinctive identity in the world of woven art.
The World IKAT Textiles Symposium (WITS) ‘Ties That Bind’, the 8th Series of the WEFT Forum, Exhibition and Fashion was launched by Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas and his wife Datin Amar Doreen Uggah.
A welcoming dinner was held for the international speakers, designers and delegates, from Canada, USA, UK, India, Thailand, Laos, Taiwan, Japan, Uzbekistan, Indonesia, Philippines as well as Sarawak’s own home designers, delegates, students and volunteers who gathered together to exchange culture and tradition through the art in textile.
The journey of the textiles on the catwalk
At the Gala Dinner and International Fashion show, fabulous textiles and designs that travel a long journey from Japan, India, Uzbekistan, Indonesia, Philippine, Thailand, Laos, as well as those by local designers, were paraded by beautiful models.
Apart from traditional designs such as beaded dresses and headgears fashioned from countries that have their tribal origins like Philippines, Indonesia and also Sarawak, there are new contemporary designs that incorporates ethnic concepts to show the unique culture of the textile.
Designers work along with the artisans and weavers, empowering the younger generation to keep up the tradition and method of the weaving alive.
Among the designers is Alfonso Guino-O, from Philippine, who features his collection from one of the tribes, wearing the hand-woven and native motif worn by warriors during festivals or on special occasions for the dance.
From Thailand, famous for its silk, designers Meechai Taesujariya and Sitthichai Smanchat show off their traditional and contemporary design of rich silk weaved textile and natural dyes.
It’s a beauty in the eyes of everyone, fine, silky and soft.
Sittichai is well presented in his stylist indigo textiles.
Myra Widiono, a participant from Indonesia, is a woman with a loving heart. She started Rumah Rakuji or Rukuji House in her country, a shelter for Indonesian Culture, Art and Craft, which helps to promote eco-friendly crafts and also providing a living for the artisans.
Myra puts her design, blending plants and natural dyes, into her crafts.
TANOTI, headed by Jacqueline Fong is well known for their contemporary hand woven songkit, empowering the younger generation to keep up the trend of songkit and technique.
Livan, from the Orang Ulu tribe, showed an outstanding dress with very unique bead works.
Indian designer Gunjan Jain worked with the artisans and weavers from the less privilege community for 10 years, empowering them to have a decent living.
She customizes and designs beautiful saree and shawls.
Another wonderful lady is BinaRao, Creative Bee from India, who works on preserving the ethnicity of the heritage of India handloom and developing the growth of the Indian craft in the textile. She is a great designer and an artisan through and through.
Miyoko Kawahito from Japan, with her fine weaved silk kimono, hand-woven with natural indigo dye, has the audiences fascinated with the beautiful textile worn by the models on the catwalk.
Laos designer, Keori Everingham blends traditional and modern elements in her design for the new generation.
Hilola Sher from Uzbekistan, Central Asia, is a young lady with big dreams. She has successfully made her way up with fashion shows in New York and Paris.
Her creations consisted of elegant, long coats in velvet with ikat textiles which make the models look tall.
Lucia Catanes Capuyan, from Philippines, with her brand known as Narda’s, has beautiful hand woven shawls, wraps and scarves in her collection.
Local designers Neng Kho Razali, Anna Sue, Army Hargreaves, Livan Handicrafts, Raca’ Law, Emil and Melinda Omar who took part in this international fashion show have the challenge of using the materials from Edric to come up with an amazing range of designs.
The 2018 Collection by Eric Ong incorporated his new natural dye from the ‘wild fig found mostly in the native jungle.
His creation used hand woven silk and cotton textiles, hand printed leafs and plants design onto the textile.
The process is eco-friendly and eco-green, where no chemical mordant added to the colour.
The grand finale featured a celebrity catwalk by Dr Ghada Hijjawi Qaddumi (president of WCC-APR), Manjari Nirula and Surapee Rojanavongse.
Present at the event were guest of honour Datin Amar Doreen Mayang, the wife of Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas, and Datuk Patinggi Puan Sri Lorna Ulun.
The Ministry of Tourism hosted a farewell dinner at Sri Dewan Rampai to bring and end to the grand occasion.