Worth its weight in gold


Photo shows the winning ‘Plaiting-Best Traditional’ creation by Ngot Bi, a 91-year-old master of this art who hails from Kampung Semera Ulu near Kuching.

THE successful conclusion of the Hasanah Gold Threads Awards held recently would pave the way towards elevating the creative industry in Sarawak.

Organisers Jacqueline Fong and Elaine Chan, in an exclusive session with thesundaypost, said there were many types of craftsmanship inculcated into the awards, including but not limited to textile, beadworks and woven fibres.

The beadwork pieces by Juliana Embrose receive a ‘Special Mention’, in recognition of its innovative fusion with bamboo-rattan elements.

“As a Sarawakian, I am immensely proud of the creative and artisanal treasures that our state holds,” said Fong.

“To fellow Sarawakians aspiring to enter the industry, your heritage and your roots are your unique selling point to the world.

“Celebrate these with joy and abundance; develop these precious resources amongst yourself or collaborate with others; and showcase your works far and wide. People from the world over deserve to celebrate with you. You are the future of our rich cultural heritage.

Chan added: “The Hasanah Gold Threads Awards programme is predominantly focused on textiles, with each category referring to production technique, such as ‘ikat’ (including ‘pua kumbu’ and ‘limar’), supplementary weft (including songket, ‘dastar’, ‘sungkit’ and ‘anyam’), ‘drawing and stamping’ (including ‘batik tulis’, ‘batik cap’ and ‘telepuk’) and ‘embroidery and embellishment’ (including ‘tekat’, ‘keringkam’, ‘kelingkan’ and ‘sulam kerawang’).

This exquisite songket earns Seri Gedong the ‘Supplementary Weft-Best Traditional Award, in view of its flawless weaving that enables the fabric to be worn reversibly.

“We take a broad view of ‘textiles’ to include fibres woven together also, in the ‘Plaiting’ (basketry techniques in various fibres) category, and the interweaving of materials to form a piece, in the ‘Beadwork’ (including loom beading and stringing) category.

“This does mean that we cover a great diversity of craftsmanship, even within each category.

“Each product is reviewed by our esteemed panel of judges, which contain experts in the field of crafts and who have had related adjudication experience, with the same criteria, that of excellence, authenticity, marketability and in the Best Innovative sub-category, innovation.

“Excellence refers to the mastery of technique and the quality of materials and design; whilst authenticity ensures that the craft remains true to its roots and producing community.

“Marketability and innovation, which reflects the artisan’s ability to push the boundaries, are key to ensuring that the use of the craft remains relevant today.

“As such, the aim of the awards is not purely just heritage preservation in its traditional form, but also aims to ensure its future sustainability and continued practice in newer forms which still pay homage to our cultural traditions.”

The intricate glass beadworks adorn these Nyonya slippers, created by one of the ‘Special Mention’ honourees, the Nyonya Heritage Art, Penang.

Fong said recipients of the Hasanah Gold Threads Awards 2023 would invariably become advocates of their own crafts.

“Throughout the following year, we shall be curating a series of programmes to expose the awards recipients and/or their works, and in the immediate term, we hope to see advancement in the work of these already celebrated artisans as well as lifting their public profiles.

“These works will also serve as a motivator to other players in the same space to challenge themselves to deliver higher standards in their work.

“In the long term, we hope for the winners of the Hasanah Gold Threads Awards 2023 to use their success and influence to inspire future generations of textile makers and supporters.”

The winners of Hasanah Gold Threads Awards 2023 pose with the distinguished guests, among them is Nancy (standing, 10th left).

In the context of the awards, sustainability is one of the key aspects that Hasanah Gold Threads Awards celebrate.

Asked about ways that the heritage textile practices could be sustained, Fong said in the context of the awards, the core objective was to ensure that the textile traditions handed down from generation to generation, would continue to exist.

“By elevating public awareness towards heritage textiles, the awards intend to grow consumer demand for them via various forms – fashion, home furnishings, interior design and art.

“With sustained income, artisans would continue to produce and the next generation will similarly have the opportunity to choose a similar career path.”

The Hasanah Gold Threads Awards is an initiative presented by Yayasan Hasanah and the Ministry of Finance (MoF), in partnership with Tanoti and Asean Handicraft Promotion and Development Association (AHPADA).

The award is dedicated to the conservation and revitalisation of Malaysia’s rich cultural heritage in textiles. The aim is to recognise and encourage exceptional craftsmanship and creativity in the textile industry, while promoting wider awareness and appreciation of Malaysia’s diverse cultural legacy.

The awards programme represents a unique opportunity to support and showcase Malaysia’s heritage textiles, while fostering innovation and sustainable development in this vital sector.

This year, the awards ceremony was staged at the Borneo Cultures Museum in Kuching in September.

Among the dignitaries in attendance were Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri, Sarawak State Legislative Assembly Speaker Tan Sri Mohamad Asfia Awang Nassar’s wife Puan Sri Dato Fatimah Mohd Iskandar, and Yayasan Hasanah trustee and managing director Datuk Shahira Ahmed Bazari.

(From left) Fatimah, Fong and Shahira arriving at the Hasanah Gold Threads Awards ceremony in Kuching.

Yayasan Hasanah is the impact-based foundation of Khazanah Nasional Berhad, the sovereign wealth fund of Malaysia. The foundation was set up as an independent entity on July 1, 2015, building on nine years of corporate responsibility (CR) efforts previously driven by Khazanah.

As a grant-giving organisation, Yayasan Hasanah goes beyond ringgit and sen to facilitate an ecosystem of transformation, working in collaboration with multiple stakeholders, infusing a spirit of advocacy and building capacity in five key focus areas: education; community development; environment; arts and public spaces; and knowledge.

Shahira delivering her speech at the event.

Collectively and collaboratively, Yayasan Hasanah hopes to shift the needle of social and community reform for Malaysians, towards ‘Advancing Malaysia’.

For further information, visit www.yayasanhasanah.org.