With its fine and timeless beauty, songket has long been regarded a cherished art form of the Malay Archipelago. Yet its survival is threatened. Songket-weaving, which demands extended periods of dedication and hard work from its artisans, is still struggling to find its place in a modern consumerist world of fast-changing trends.
Over the years, the number of weavers dwindled and the art form, which was once learnt through lineage, finds less and less favour among the young. Its geographical isolation to some villages in Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang further adds a challenge to the craft’s survival.
However, since the establishment of the YTNZ production centres, an increasing number of young trainees have enrolled in skill-transfer programmes. Royal Terengganu Songket weavers receive a fixed salary with EPF and Socso benefits. They are also eligible for overtime and performance-based bonuses.
As income levels rise and stabilise, songket-weaving has become a viable career option once again for young women in Terengganu. YTNZ currently employs 30 weavers between the ages of 18 and 30. By 2013, the Foundation aims to double the number of its full-time weavers.