The province of West Sumatra is not only blessed with picturesque panorama, undulating hills and mountain ranges, mystifying Lakes , waterfalls and lush green fields, but also with the vibrant culture of its indigenous Minangkabau ethnic group. The colorful culture of the Minangkabau is etched in the widely recognized hand-woven Songket fabrics, - hailed as the most refined in the world, - as well as in other fine handicrafts.
Found also on other islands across the Indonesian Archipelago, the Songket is a richly decorative fabric, hand-woven in silk or cotton, and intricately patterned, But here in the West Sumatra’s highlands, Songket it is richly embellished with gold or silver thread. The metallic threads that stand out against the brightly colored or black background cloth creating a most dramatic and opulant effect. To get these effect, during the weaving process the metallic threads are inserted in the loom and woven in among the silk or cotton weft (latitudinal).
The term Songket comes from the Minangkabau’s Malay language of “Sungkit” which means “to hook”. It refers to the method of songket weaving which is hooking and picking a group of threads, then slipping in the gold and silver threads among the weft. Others suggest that the word is constructed from a combination of two terms, being : tusuk (prick) and cukit (pick) , which when combined becomes sukit, that was later modified to sungkik and finally to songket.
Rich in color and filled with intricate symbols, the patterns and motifs of Minangkabau’s Songket - in line with the norms of Islam, - largely depict nature and flowers. Among motifs applied in the Minangkabau Songket are: Kaluak Pakis (Fern), pucuak rambuang (bamboo), bungo mentimun (Cucumber flowers), biji ayam, ilalang rebah, and more.