Dastar of Sabah - Malaysia Borneo



Weaving in Sabah has not had as much exposure compared to the Iban textile. Most hand-woven textiles in Sabah are not readily sold in the market. The Kadazans produce a black sarong interwoven with vertical and cross-wise strips similar to the Filipino styled langkit . A subgroup of the Kadazan, the Rungus, weave a cotton fabric called kain pudang . This textile uses a supplementary weft technique, producing an assortment of zigzags, triangles and rhombuses. The Rungus women are the only group in Sabah who still maintains the age-old tradition of homespun cotton threads and natural dyes for their textiles. Kain mogah , produced by the women of a Dusun subgroup is another fascinating hand-woven material, usually black and decorated with orange of white pin-stripes. The sarong requires two pieces of the woven fabric sewn together and worn with a silver belt and rings of rattan.

spinning raw cotton

The dastar, an elaborate Malay styled headgear worn by the once feared seafaring community of the Bajau has similar weaving techiniques to the songket .The dastar uses supplementary weft weaving where coloured threads are added to the weft to create the designs. Descendants of great horseback warriors, the Bajau are fiercely proud of their heritage and this can be seen in the design and motifs of the dastar headgear. The Dastar was originally woven on a back-strap loom similar to those found in the Southern Philippines. The difference between the Bajau loom and the Iban back-strap loom is that the former is wider and has a comb known as a surud incorporated into the loom. As the method of weaving is similar to the songket, the Malay frame loom is slowly gaining popularity as an alternative to the Bajau back-strap loom. There is still demand for Bajau weaving in the minority groups as headgear for ceremonial rites such as for weddings and social events. The Dastar was originally weaved from coarse pineapple fibres and homespun cotton dyed with vegetable dyes. The convenience of commercial cotton yarns and aniline dyes have almost all but eliminated the tedious preparations of organic dyes and cotton picking. A dwindling number of elderly weavers are capable of incorporating the traditional methods with the new but this art of weaving is becoming increasingly rare and is in fear of extinction.

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