Local Malay women frequently don the traditional headscarf known as "Tudung Keringkam" in Sarawak. It is usually worn on important occasions like weddings and cultural festivals. Keringkam is a threading process which is utilised to create the motifs that are used to create the lacy edging that decorates the selayah's borders.
Tudung keringkam comes in two varieties: "selayah" (veil) and "selendang," both of which are handcrafted with beautiful embroidered work utilising coarse threads in gold and silver. The "Selayah Keringkam" is typically worn as a veil that extends from the top of the head all the way to the shoulder while "Selendang Keringkam" is considerably longer and worn all the way to the waist.
According to Keringkan artist Norinda Suut, the water canal motifs (motif tali air), which serve as the embroidery's border, would be worked on first in the embroidery process. After that is finished, the fabric's borders are "tidied" with designs like bamboo shoots and mountain ranges. Next, the embroiderer would move on to work on the main body of the selayah, employing either fruit or floral motifs, such as mangosteen or blossoming roses. For the finishing touches, the embroider may add some scattered flower motifs, scattered insertion motifs, leaf motifs, scattered light motifs, and clam motifs.
The keringkam plays a significant role in Sarawak's Malay culture and is considered more than just a simple fashion piece. The practice of sending mats during weddings, known as "tikar ngambik pengantin," is the most prominent. It's not your typical mengkuang mat; instead, the bride's family is sending the mat to the groom's house wrapped in a veil or keringkam scarf decorated with gold thread to show that they are prepared to welcome the entourage's arrival.
Because of their high cost, keringkam scarves were traditionally exclusively accessible to Sarawak's Malay aristocracy. Over time, regular people have begun to own keringkam scarves as well. Every Sarawak Malay family considers it a necessity, to the point where some families turn it into an heirloom that is passed down from one generation to the next.
This craft is also very time-consuming and requires a high level of patience and skills so let’s appreciate the beauty and the art of Keringkam embroidery.
(Tudung Keringkam - Image taken from kosmo.com.my)
(Tudung Keringkam - Image taken from thestar.com.my)
Salem, K. (2006). Tudung Keringkam [Ebook] (p. 3). Pustaka Negeri Sarawak. Retrieved from https://www.pustaka-sarawak.com/document_uploaded/1547616065.pdf.
Save the Keringkam! One artisan is determined to ensure that it'll never lose its shine. New Straits Times. (2020). Retrieved from https://www.nst.com.my/lifestyle/sunday-vibes/2020/01/555749/save-keringkam-one-artisan-determined-ensure-itll-never-lose.
Warisan keringkam. myMetro. Retrieved from https://www.hmetro.com.my/nuansa/2019/03/438104/warisan-keringkam.