5 things everybody should know about Songket Sambas

The Sambas Regency in West Kalimantan Province of Indonesia is known for its beautiful and intricate weaving of Songket Sambas.

Songket is a type of fabric that is hand woven in silk or cotton and often embroidered with intricate motifs in gold or silver thread.

A proud legacy of the Malay community in Sambas, here are 5 things to learn about Songket Sambas.

  1. Songket Sambas is believed to be over 400 years old.

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A tradition as old as time

Estimated to be over 400 years old, Songket Sambas is said to have existed before the Sambas Islamic Sultanate that was established with the birth of its first Muslim sultan Muhammad Shafi ud-din I.

Born Radin Sulaiman to Sultan Tengah (Sarawak’s first and only Sultan) from Brunei and Ratu Sepudak, a descendant of the Majapahit governors of Sambas, he ruled it for 10 years from 1675 to 1685.

  1. It was a sign of luxury

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Songket Sambas is luxury item in the old days

As a traditional luxury item, Songket Sambas was worn by ladies from the upper class in the olden days.

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Songket details on the collar

Today, it is often worn to formal and grand functions or events in Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei.

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Songket details on a songkok (cap)

As of now, besides womenswear, the songket weaving is also used as decorative trimming on men’s clothing along the collar or on songkok (the traditional Malay cap).

  1. Gold thread is used in Songket Sambas

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Songket Sambas is a hand woven fabric with gold or silver thread

Songket Sambas is a hand-woven fabric in silk or cotton with gold or silver thread.

The incorporation of gold thread is such an important part of the textile that the locals refer to the weaving as ‘bannang ammas’ (gold thread).

This is because the threads are light, durable and the colours do not fade even after hundreds of years.

  1. It was given as a wedding gift from the groom to the bride

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It plays an integral part in the Sambas marriage custom, often given as wedding gift from the groom to the bride

Thanks to the use of the gold thread, Songket Sambas was a valuable gift and played an important part in local wedding customs.

In accordance to the Sambas Malay custom, it was often given by the bridegroom to the bride as a gift.

  1. The bamboo shoot pattern signifies modesty and humility

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The bamboo shoot (long, tapered and triangular in shaped) motif signify modesty and humility

Another unique feature of Songket Sambas is the bamboo shoot motif that can be found on the textile.

Known as ‘suji bilang’ among the locals, the bamboo shoot pattern is triangular in shape, long and tapered.

Inspired by the bamboo shoot for its ability to bend when it grows tall, it signifies modesty and humility.

The motif reminds the wearer to aspire to great heights but  not to be arrogant or proud once they’ve reached a higher level in life.


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