Special Care: Songket is dry cleaned to make it last longer. (Dimas Alif / Jawa Pos)
Another traditional Indonesian cloth that has a place in the eyes of the world. Songket, a type of woven fabric with gold or silver thread embroidery, is now increasingly in demand. Various regions in the archipelago produce their respective variants of songket. Call it Malay, Minangkabau, Palembang, and Sulawesi.
Songket motifs are usually composed of simple and symmetrical patterns, such as diamond shapes, rhombuses, triangles, or flower tendrils. Some patterns reflect the traditions of the people or the plants and animals typical of a place. In its development, the queen of all fabrics can be used, both men and women. From tops, bottoms, scarves, to headbands.
Lia Afif, a Muslim fashion designer from Surabaya, is one of the lovers of this beautiful fabric. The mother of four even included songket in her design at Payakumbuh Fashion Week in West Sumatra some time ago. Since songket is one of the handmade masterpieces, of course Lia admits that she is very careful in treating it. “So that it doesn’t get damaged, I wash it dry clean,” said Lia.
The shiny gold or silver thread on the songket, said Lia, is very susceptible to detergents. The metal content in the thread is feared to react and be damaged if exposed to soap. “Songket should also not be washed, let alone squeezed. I’m worried that the weaving will be damaged,” he said.
For this reason, said Lia, if only worn for a short time, clothes made of songket material should be aerated enough so that they are not damp. New songkets are washed if they are really dirty or stained. It should also only be dry cleaning with steam and without detergent.
“Songket also cannot stand the heat. If ironed, the gold threads can break. It’s dear,” he said. By using songket, said Lia, the wearer will look brilliant and classy like kings. The clothes of the nobles also symbolize the luxury, elegance, and majesty of high cultural arts.