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Keeping songket alive

There are several motifs in a songket. Here's a glimpse of some of them.

Bunga Bogan: This motif is usually found in old songket cloths as a scattered motif. In Kelantan, it is known as "three virgin flowers". This motif is very popular with royalty as it features the crown and the mace, which symbolise power. The motif has been transformed to look like a flower with a fine and long stem, decorated with leaves on both sides.

Bunga Pecah Lapan: This motif contains eight sepals or petals and is usually not associated with any specific flower. It is an abstract name given to any flower with eight sepals. This motif is usually placed at the body of the cloth or sarong's head.

Kendik Tali: This motif is a small potong seri kaya motif sandwiched between two lines. It resembles a rope that is spun into an S or Z shape. It is the most popular motif and usually found at the sides of a cloth.

Pucuk Rebung Lawi Ayam: The bamboo shoot chicken tailfeather motif is the most popular of the bamboo shoot motifs. It is usually used in old sarongs and shawls and inspired by the rooster's tail.

Tampuk Buah Kesemak: This motif is taken from the kesemak or pisang kaki fruit (persimmon). It is similar to the mangosteen's calyx but bigger and its sheath is connected like a poppy flower.

Tampuk Manggis: The mangosteen is one of the most delicious fruits in Southeast Asia and is known as the Queen of Fruits. Its purple skin, when ripe, can be used to make colour. At the top of it you will find the calyx which ranges from five to eight segments. It is one of the main motifs used in songket.

Here are some tips on how to care for your songket:

* Storage area must be clean, dark and dry with ample breathing space.
* It is best rolled (don't roll it too tight) using a tube with acidfree tissue/paper/washed cotton cloth lining in between. The tube must be longer than the songket.
* Keep the songket in a prewashed muslin pouch.
* Label the songket according to the year it was made and its master weaver.
* Flat storage is not suitable for songket sarong.
* Avoid folding songket for too long as the gold thread may break and the songket will have a permanent folding effect.
* Hang the songket if it's not too heavy, but don't use metal hangers, as it could get rusty. Wooden broad padded hangers help minimise fibre damage.
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