Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Songket Weaving - Malaysia

Srivijaya governed the Southeast Asian sea route from the 7 th century - lured merchants from the east and the west to trade under well-organised and protected conditions. Vague evidence seems to suggest that Srivijaya's rule began to crumble in the 13 th century, this gave other trading ports the opportunity to divert merchant ships with promises of trade opportunities. One such port was Melaka, which swiftly took charge of the trading route down the Straits of Melaka. Traders exchanged goods at the port, shipping basic necessities such as rice, sugar, pottery and luxury items such as silk yarns, gold and silver for ivory, tortoiseshell, resin, waxes, sandalwood, spices and other jungle products abound in the region's rainforest. Textiles were brought in to trade or as gifts for the Sultan and his entourage. It is noted that the royal court clothed in textiles were very much influenced by Indian weaving and design methods. The courts' controlled the textile trade and by the 15 th century, Melaka was trading in a variety of luxurious textiles including fine silks, gold threads and brocade. Weavers were no longer restricted to the use of local materials.