Songket cultural history of Palembang, Indonesia

Kain Songket: History and Meaning of the Contained in it

1. History and Development of Kain Songket
Kilkenny has a long history, starting from the Srivijaya kingdom until the glory of the Sultanate of Palembang Darussalam. Sriwijaya kingdom in its heyday around the 7th century AD became the forerunners of the city lies on the banks of Musi river this. A lot of priceless relics from the famous royal, one of which is cultural Wastra (cloth), a beautiful, songket. The existence of songket showed a high level of culture, because the fabric is stored a variety of things such as materials used, workmanship manner, the meaning contained in it as well as how to use and levels of people who wear them.

The existence of Palembang songket is one of the Srivijaya royal heritage evidence capable penguasai trade in the Straits of Malacca in his day. Historians say that the kingdom of Srivijaya around XI century after the collapse of the Malay kingdom holds the hegemony of the sea trade with foreign countries, among countries that have trade relations with the kingdom of Srivijaya is Indian, Chinese, Arabic etc.. The existence of this trade hegemony shows a greatness of the maritime kingdom in the archipelago at the time. Geographical situation in the traffic between China and India trade Goliath make a royal kingdom of Srivijaya maritime and international trade.

Sparkling gold color and luster that glows in this fabric, provides its own value and shows a greatness of the people who make songket. If we see a series of yarn and woven neatly arranged through symmetrical patterns, showed that the fabric was made with the people skills who understand the various ways to create quality fabric, that is able to decorate cloth with various designs. This capability is not everyone can do it, the skill and accuracy are absolutely necessary to make a songket. This knowledge is usually obtained by heredity from generation to generation.

According to some historians, as quoted by the Supreme S from Bandung ITT Research Team in his book entitled "Knowledge Printed Textiles" (1977:209), says that since the time Neolithikum, in Indonesia already know how to make clothes. From the tools Neolithikum relic can be known that the bark is a man dress in prehistoric times in Indonesia. The instrument used is the bark bat made from stone, as found in the collections of the Central Museum in Jakarta. In addition to clothing from bark, also known clothing material using animal skin that is generally used by men as a dress or outfit for the ceremony for the war. Since prehistoric ancestor of the Indonesian people also are familiar with weaving techniques. This is reinforced by the discovery of prehistoric pottery in which there is a decoration made of coarse woven fabric.

Dizaman prosperity was visible from the Srivijaya empire that produces a variety of songket, which at that time estimated songket sparkling color to royal officials in particular to give the king in embroidered made from gold. As a kingdom rich in gold and other metals from other, partly gold-gold is sent into the land of Siam (Thailand) to be the golden thread which is then sent back kekerajaan Srivijaya, by the crafters gold threads are woven with the threads of colored silk in those days imported from Siam (Thailand), India and China (China). International trade brought great influence in terms of processing songket especially in combining materials to be used as songket. Songket cloth for the King and kelurganya would require more material and workmanship, gold-coated silk thread became a prominent ingredient in pembuatanya, resulting in a sparkling songket, which shows a greatness and wealth that is not infinite.

International trade relations that led to the kingdom of Srivijaya empire that is open to outside influences, the existence of trade relations with neighboring countries indirectly affect local kebdayaan. As a result of an exchange of goods in trade has affected the pattern or motif generated songket Palembang area. Many art influences brought by the traders, which of them come from the Middle East and China (Chinese) influence the design motif in Palembang songket. One is the Islamic religion brought by traders from the Middle East, although in Islamic art are not allowed to create living creatures, but within the design songket seemed made of certain animal animal. Like for example many species of birds, reptiles and dragons. Mangosteen flower motif in the design songket also present in the Prambanan reliefs from the ninth and tenth centuries, experts estimate that there are similarities with the motifs that exist in Palembang songket design and this is evidence from the time of Hindu heritage in Indonesia contained in fabric design Palembang songket to the present.

After the weakening of the kingdoms in the archipelago, especially in Palembang and the arrival of Dutch colonialism, there have been changes in the structure of public life until just before World War II, the existence of songket had suffered a setback because of the difficulty of the necessary raw materials. However, the presence songket which is a relic of Indonesian history are preserved mainly because they still have a place in public life. Songket persistence of this, besides having a beautiful shape also has historical values ​​that long in the history of this nation, the greatness of the kingdom of Srivijaya not be separated from the presence of songket. The existence of this songket has helped raise the kingdom of Srivijaya through an international trade.

Dutch departure from the land of the archipelago and the arrival of the Japanese occupation and during the Revolution until 1950, continues to deliver songket craft at the point of worrying because of the difficulties in getting raw materials and marketing products such songket. In the Japanese colonial period, Indonesia experienced extortion so that raw materials used to make songket very difficult to obtain. By the year 1950 and thereafter, the craft has begun songket ketch sought re-scale in a way to remove the threads of gold and silver threads woven songket the old (which is not used anymore) because the fabric had rotted silk as the basis for a woven fabric songket new, this situation lasted until 1966. It was not until around the year 1966 (the end), handicraft business much done songket started again by the crafters songket like old times with the number of threads of silk imports come from overseas, like China and Taiwan via traders from Singapore and yarn gold-thread from India, France, Japan and Germany. Palembang songket has undergone many ups and downs in his efforts to maintain cultural heritage of the past. But still survive until today. The existence of this songket, is one huge national asset and should be maintained at all existence. Songket has become the hallmark of the city of Palembang and is part of the culture of Indonesia. The Indonesian nation is rich in heritage and culture in the form of fabric or the other.

2. The types of Motif Kain Songket Palembang

Use songket is generally used as a custom clothing Palembang people to attend the wedding ceremony, ceremonial shaving baby's hair and as a dancer clothing Gending Sriwijaya (welcome dance). According to ITT Team Djamarin.dkk from Bandung (1977:217-218) meyebutkan about the kinds of motives Palembang songket, including:

a. Songket Lepus
Lepus means covering, so understanding is songket songket Lepus that have nearly menututpi golden thread throughout the fabric. Gold with high quality yarn imported from China. Sometimes threads of gold was taken from songket very old (hundreds of years) because the fabric becomes brittle, gold thread embroidered fabric back to new. Quality songket Lepus species is of the highest quality and most expensive price. In accordance with a picture of his motive, then even this Lepus songket various names, among others songket Lepus latitude (pictorial star), songket grapes Lepus, Lepus songket chain, songket Lepus threaded, and others.

Songket Lepus

                                             Figure 1. Songket Lepus (Source Zainal Songket)

b. Songket Tawur
In the design of the fabric which tawur songket on motive does not cover the entire surface of the fabric but in groups and spread lies (studded / tawur). As forming weft motif is not inserted from the side kepinggir weaving fabric as in the case songket usual, but only in groups only. As with songket Lepus, songket tawur also vary among other names songket tawur latitude, songket tawur look mangosteen, songket tawur silver trays, and others.

Songket Tawur

Figure 2. Songket Tawur (Source Jakarta Textile Museum)

c. Songket Tretes Mender
In songket this species is not found a picture in the middle of the fabric motif (polosan). Motifs contained in songket Tretes mender there on both ends of the base and at the edges of the cloth.

Songket Tretes Mender

Figure 3. Songket Tretes Mender (Source Zainal Songket)

d. Bungo songket Pacik
In songket this type, most of his motives made of gold thread that was replaced with white cotton thread, so that the gold thread woven not much else and only used as a distraction only.

Bungo songket Pacik

Figure 4. Bungo Songket Pacik (Source Kain Songket Indonesia)

e. Songket Combination
In songket this type is a combination of the types of songket above, for example songket Bungo songket tawur China is combined with songket Bungo Bungo songket pacik while diamond is a combination of songket Tretes mender with songket Bungo pacik.

Songket Combination

Figure 5. Songket Combined (source Zainal Songket)

f. Songket Limar
Songket is not formed by additional threads as well as on-songket songket other. Development of flower-motif derived from the threads of the feed or the dyed warp yarn on the parts tetentu before weaving. Usually combined with songket Limar developed with gold thread songket tawur until called songket Limar tawur. Kinds of songket Limar jando include ornate, jando bride and flower boyfriend.

Songket Limar

Figure 6. Songket Limar (Source Zainal Songket)

To strengthen the basic fabric weaving yarn songket in gold or silver thread, it is often used to lungsinya cotton fiber and silk for their feed.

3. Various kinds of fabrics Songket Motif
Although history has recorded how this songket has existed since the days of the kingdom of Srivijaya, Palembang songket but apparently did not experience any increase in terms of motive.

To create a motif on fabric songket, there is a golden thread that uses full motive and there is a blank in the middle, but his motives are given on the edges of the cloth. To make one type of songket therein can usually there are two or three songket motifs, so as to produce a mix of beautiful and interesting pictures. Gold thread used in songket vary widely, in songket original (made in ancient times) using gold thread seal heart made of pure gold, fourteen karat gold thread is also known as number one. Gold thread like this at the present time it turns out is not produced anymore, because in addition to expensive. Gold thread to make songket today typically use second quality that is characteristic of gold thread Bangko a little silver-colored and beaded pearls, gold thread and then number three is the golden thread sartubi a whitish color and finer the yarn structure, whereas gold thread with a quality number four is the golden thread mamilon a characteristic golden brown and thread a bit rough. Gold thread with indifferent quality jelly is a golden thread that thread a bit rough and easily broken.

By looking at the basic materials used to make songket motifs, we can know that the people in those days was based mengyukai beauty of gold. To make things like this would require sufficient basic material in the area pembuatanya, so as not to make the expensive production costs. So to that expected archipelago during the Srivijaya kingdom rich in gold, to be used to create fabrics made of materials that are mixed with gold. Although there were indeed using a gold dress, most are owned by the nobility in particular.

4. Fabric Color Songket
Colors used to color the dye obtained from songket kesumbo to green, purple, burgundy and yellow color from turmeric to red color while using a bark that is Sepang Sepang bark from trees that are old. the color purple can also be generated from the mangosteen rind. All of which is used to color-based songket turns from nature, they try to combine these colors to produce striking and beautiful bright colors. To make the colors in the fabric of course requires knowledge that is not arbitrary, where he must cultivate the basic ingredients of this nature into an ink.

Human beings known as bersimbol, every behavior and action full of particular symbols, not least what is contained in the color songket. Each color contained in songket has its own meaning which may indicate the status of sipemakainya, not only wealth but also the status of the social status of which is songket in green, red and yellow worn by a widow, whereas if they want to get married again so they can use bright colors or bright (Suwarti Kartiwa: 35). In songket not have a benchmark in terms of color for one particular type of songket, because at that necessitated songket is on the type and usefulness, in one type of songket there is more than one color to decorate cloth.

4. Coat motif contained in Palembang Kain Songket
As has been stated above, if human life is full of symbols, in fact songket has the meaning of sacred symbols in every pattern and in one there songket motifs, colors and different symbols so as to produce a beautiful blend. Symbols contained in songket and its use are:

a. Rose motif in songket designs have symbolic meaning as the antidote to evil. Songket fabric that has a rose motif is usually used as the completeness of hair shaving ceremony as blankets and baby sling. Songket fabric with a rose motif is used in the hope of a child's life to come is always protected from danger and always in the protection of God Almighty.

b. Cape flower motif symbolizing hospitality as hostess as well as a symbol of welcome. Songket cloth cape that has a flower motif used by the mistress of the house to welcome guests.

c. Jasmine flower motif in songket design symbolizes purity, keanggungan and manners. Songket having jasmine flower motif is usually used by girls within the kingdom who are not married because the jasmine flower motifs depict holiness.

d. Motif symbolizing good wishes shoot bamboo shoots, because bamboo is a tree that does not easily fall down by strong wind gust. Motif shoot bamboo shoots are always present in any songket as a head cloth or tumpal. The use of bamboo shoots on bud motif songket intended for sipemakai always have good luck and hope in every step of life.

At the present time in Indonesia, meaning and metaphor in a motif fabric quite a few are ignored, many of them ignored it all. What is in the cloth is actually symbolizes a prayer to sipemakainya, for example motifs have meaning for shoot of bamboo shoots sipemakai always in luck in his life. What is in this cloth is a symbol of human hope itself.

5. Social Status Symbol
Motifs that often appear in songket is floral design, this signifies the closeness with the woman. As noted by RHM Akib was quoted as saying by Suwarti Kartiwa (1996:34), that songket closely associated with women and women in it reflects. This is evident from the number of flower motifs are applied in the design songket and if there is then the traditional clothing worn by men, then it is a development that later because in ancient times songket cloth woven by the girls while waiting for applications from parties men.

As with other areas, people have the obligation to wear Palembang songket in every ceremony is performed (traditional clothing). Songket fabrics used in every religious ceremony, a wedding or other ceremonies and not for everyday wear (Wastraprema Association, 1976). This all indicates that songket can not be used carelessly, because in it contains specific meanings. This meaning is a symbol of sipemakai. For example, the use of songket for wedding ceremony is different from that used for religious ceremonies and other traditional ceremonies. The difference may be seen on the red chillies used by the bride while the other customary ceremonies are free to choose patterns and colors. Previously, the use of songket distinguished between for the royal family, royal officials, nobles and commoners class. The difference is important because the use of songket in songket has its own motives that depict the greatness and majesty of a person (user).


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