Songket, aptly dubbed Malaysia's "Cloth of Gold", is a proud legacy of the courts of Kelantan and Pattani. Richly woven with gold or silver thread, it was the dramatic consequence of the region's early trade with China (from whence came the silk) and India (the gold and silver threads). This fabric, once exclusive to royalty, is usually used today for formal and ceremonial occasions such as weddings and convocations.
Also, where previously songket-weaving was strictly a court vocation, it is mostly the occupation of village women who find time to sit at the loom in between doing household chores.
Songket is not only costly to make, but it involves long, often tedious hours that stretch into days and weeks and requires pricey materials. 'Menyongket' which means 'to bring out the charisma of the design through embroidery'.
The traditional weaving equipment consists of simple handloom shuttles operated by two women. Ingenious motifs, pattems and border designs give it a unique character.
You may visit a songket-weaving factory at Kampung Penambang, about 4 km north of Kota Bharu, on the road to Pantai Cinta Berahi.
Once exclusive to royalty, Songket, then and now is still a fabric meant for the evening.