Songket is a valuable cultural heritage of fabric handicraft. A traditional fabrics product of heritage are made using a specially designed traditional tool called ‘cagcag’. Workers in an effort to resolve the songket are sitting on the floor with cagcag tied up at the waist. The mentioned cagcag is not ATBM (alat tenun bukan mesin/not engine looms). The weaving tool cagcag is a manual tool. Weavers must enter the yarn material into this tool per piece manually. While in ATMB, thread or yarn inserted into the ‘sekoci’. Cagcag fiber is derived from the traditional bamboo materials, called bungbung while ATBM use iron.
This traditional Songket is not produced in wide size, the standard width is only 55 cm, while the length is 180 cm. If you want to used a songket as cloth, then two songket will be spliced and stitched the middle so that the width become 110 cm.
Songket is considered good in quality if the fabric is stiff. Songket become stiff, obtained by dipped the thread into a slurry of starch. Stelah dicelupkan, then the yarn is cooled by wagging them. The wagging process also aimed to separate the threads that are not fused, then dried out under the sun shine then ready to woven.
Songket can be used as a very attractive cloth alternative. Songket can also be used as Kamben, udeng / headband, but it is also used as a patch on the bags and other products. Traditional songket’s prices are quite expensive, the range is between 4 million and 16 million Rupiahs. The reason is that the production process of traditional songket using traditional tools, relatively difficult and quite time consuming process. Producing a songket with a standard size could take approximately three months plus the high price of the yarn material.
According to one of traditional Balinese songket businessman, Gusti Ayu Mardani, the sales of traditional songket is more concerned to quality than quantity. Therefore She never pressured Her employees to produce the products in large quantities.
High quality yarn is mostly selected as the material. Good quality silk yarn is the perfect option to produce good quality songket. Silk yarn produces great color, unique and will not fade easily.
It is advisable to be very careful in taking care of a songket to maintain its color and quality. Maintaining the traditional songket simpy by aerated it, should not be dried under direct sunlight and should not be washed or exposed to water.
However, to meet the need of international market, these days songket with better color quality have been produced. This songket type’s color is more durable and their price are more competitive.
The Ancestral tradition that should be preserved
On Bali island, songket are usually named based on the region of origin where they are produced like songket Singaraja, songket Bondalem, songket Sidemen, songket Negara or Jembrana, songket Gelgel and others. The motif used are the characteristic of the songkets as well.
There are several motifs that produced in each region, like pot sari motif, merak or peacock, padang dreman, sampian, bungan cengini, bintang kurung, motif boma, kaya, loster, pucuk, cangkir and bulan megantung.
Songket Karangasem that currently in high demand are the peacock motif and bungan cangini motif. Orders for those motives are quite huge and periodic. Balinese have been using songket in their Religious ceremonies since centuries ago. A unique cultural heritage which should be preserved.