An image of Kain songket

Unknown Artist

Kain songket

Not on display
Further information

One of the most prestigious of locally produced cloths is the colourful silk weft ikat textiles of Palembang in Sumatra. This elaborate ‘red and gold’ example is woven with an intricate pattern in a supplementary weft weave (‘songket’) which replicates the motifs of the coveted ‘patola’, and uses, as in this piece, gold metal-wrapped threads. These textiles were folded lengthwise and worn over the shoulder or wrapped around the waist. They were usually worn on important ceremonial occasions. The richer and more sumptuous the display of gold on any particular textile, the greater the wealth and prestige of the wearer’s family. Palembang, on the eastern coast of Sumatra, was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Srivijaya. As a wealthy trading power in Southeast Asia, it attracted Indian and Chinese traders, who introduced silk and the technique of silk weaving. A social class wealthy enough to enjoy such luxurious textiles ensured their production.

The Asian Collections, AGNSW, 2003, pg.346.

Place of origin
Sumatra, Indonesia
Songket, silk, gold thread and natural dyes
86.0 x 203.0 cm
Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.

Gift of Dr John Yu 1998
Accession number