Deeper Understanding of Malay Textiles

WITH Splendours of Malay World Textiles is currently running at Menara KEN, TTDI until the end of October, dedicated to various categories from the most complete range of traditional textiles from the Malay world.

The exhibition, owned and curated by Chinese-American art critic and collector John Ang, is the result of Ang’s long commitment to studying and improving his understanding of textiles in the Malay Archipelago, which also prompted his move to Malaysia.

“I first started collecting Malay textiles in 2014 and was immediately captivated by its beauty and complexity. This sparked my passion and I became an avid collector, traveling all over Asia in search of items to add to my growing collection,” he said.

Previously, Ang spent 28 years as director of the Samyama Gallery in Taiwan, where he established himself as an authority on Asian art by publishing a book on Chinese furniture, as well as books on yoga and Asian cuisine.

The exhibition was opened by Lee Talbot, Curator of the George Washington University Textile Museum Collection, and Nini Marini Ramlan, President of Citra.

“This project marks the beginning of a new era in the global understanding and appreciation of Malay textiles,” said Talbot.

The exhibition confirmed Talbot’s words, as the complete Ang set was presented, consisting of more than 700 individual items from 12 categories, such as songket (brocade), limar (weaving ikat), telepuk (appliqué with gold leaf), tecatan (embroidery), pelanges (tie-dye), ikat lollipop (warp ikat), tenunan (plain weave with stripes and checks), linangkit (tapestry), mold (prints), batik (wax resist), rent (lace) and anyone (woven non-spun vegetable fibers).

“The Malayan world in this exhibition extends beyond what we know about Malaysia. You may be surprised at how big our world was and how we have always been citizens of the world,” said the artist Marini.

The remarks of the latter are clearly visible on the collected fabrics, and fabrics from other countries related to the Malay world are exhibited for visitors.

In addition, the exhibition also shows how unique textiles in the Malay world have been shaped and influenced by other cultures, and in turn did the opposite, such as how ikat lollipop The Malays of Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang, Pontianak, Sambas and Palembang were influenced to some extent by Central Asian, Middle Eastern and Indian sources.

“Everything is connected because there are similar patterns. For example, in the Philippines, I see a zigzag pattern, and these are the same patterns that the Malays call “siku keluang,” which means “bat’s elbow,” Ang said of the connection and similarity of fabrics in the archipelago.

The Splendor of Malay Textile Exhibition will not only showcase the basic techniques of Malay textiles, but also showcase a wide range of variations on each technique.

Along with the exhibition, Ang will host seminars, tours and dinners during the three months of the exhibition.

The exhibition will be open until 30 October.

Exhibition tickets for RM35 and tour bookings can be found at