Negeri Sembilan’s Bunga Lado Songket sees revival

SEREMBAN, Feb 17: After a hiatus of 26 years, the Negeri Sembilan songket is set for a revival, featuring the iconic Bunga Lado (pepper flower) motif, one of the nine distinctive identities within the state.

Spearheading this cultural resurgence is Mohd Khairil Hisham Mohd Ashaari, the Curator of Tuanku Ja’afar Royal Gallery, who underscored the significance of this initiative to honour and preserve Negeri Sembilan’s art and culture. 

Circa 1998, the Adat Perpatih state’s songket gained notable recognition, featuring motifs inspired by carvings and plants.

However, in this contemporary initiative, there is a heightened commitment to spotlight the distinct identity of Bunga Lado through a collaboration with the Prison Department, aimed at crafting high-quality songket. 

“The inspiration for this concept emerged during the Movement Control Order (MCO). It was during this period that we conceptualised a distinctive pattern featuring pepper flowers. Taking the idea further, I reached out to a contact in Terengganu, seeking collaboration to produce a songket adorned with this unique floral motif. 

“Following that, we visited the Kelantan Prison to acquire insights into the craft of songket making. Subsequently, we plan to produce it at the Jelebu Prison, as we aim for the songket to be crafted within the state,” he said.

According to him, the smooth songket’s texture exhibits distinct patterns on the front and back, making it suitable for various styling options tailored to specific occasions throughout the day and night.

Additionally, he mentioned plans to create a unique songket pattern aligned with the identity of the four luak (clans) in the state, incorporating the distinctive Bunga Lado motif.

“Each luak in this state has its own identity but the basic motif remains Bunga Lado. So the design is based on the carvings and identity of each luak,” he said.

Mohd Khairil highlighted that the Bunga Lado motif, characterised by its white colour, petals, five stamens, and stigma, serves as a symbolic representation of the state’s uniqueness, particularly its association with spicy cuisine.

The leaves symbolise the people of the state, the five petals – the five Pillars of Islam and the five Pillars of the Nation, the five stamens or Benang Sari which is Undang Yang Empat, namely Undang Sungai Ujong, Undang Jelebu, Undang Johol, Undang Rembau, and Tuanku Besar Tampin while the stigma is the Yang di-Pertuan Besar.

Mohd Khairil said the gallery is also actively promoting other identities such as women’s traditional clothing, which is the Baju Kebaya Setengah Tiang, which has a longer top matched with a batik sarong.

He added that this baju kebaya and the Bunga Lado songket will be exhibited at the Tuanku Jaa’far Gallery on Feb 23 for the prison products sales. 

Mohd Khairil then listed the state’s nine identities as the Adat Perpatih, traditional long-roofed house, Gulai Kuning (traditional cuisine), Bunga LadoGasing (traditional games), Cak Lempong (music), Tarian Piring Lambung (dance), six songs published by the State Tourism Board, and Baju Cekak Musang Melayu (traditional men’s attire).