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Written by Sarah Wong Jing Yuan |

Arabyrd’s The Cloth Story Travelogue is a series of documentaries about the stories behind the uniqueness of batik, songket and other clothing from the Malay culture, as well as the origin of cloth production. The first season of The Cloth Story explores the traditional textiles of the East Coast of West Malaysia before moving to home ground featuring Borneo’s textile history and weaving culture, in Season 2 which is scheduled to air sometime this year. 

The extraordinary host of The Cloth Story is Sarawak-Malaysian singer Arabyrd who is perhaps lesser known by her real name, Arafah Edruce. She holds many hats, showing skills as a DJ and alternative electronic artist, and her ability to be relatable to the show’s guests tells a greater story about the island’s humbling nature and the seamless ability of an island kid to slip back into a slower lifestyle.

There are no flashy scenes here, just heartwarming chats with expert artisans and a great visual map of kain across the various state of Malaysia. Episode 13 of Season 1, in particular, talks about the Pua, a very popular and renowned textile produced by the Ibans in Sarawak. Considered the heart of the Iban culture”, the patterns and design in Pua are said to be inspired by dreams in the olden days.

Arabyrd’s exploration took her to the Sarawak Cultural Village where she met Siti Masitah, affectionately known as Kak Siti, and Fiorita or Kak Ita. Pua is said to be based on the characters of Menggin and Dara Tinchin, who according to Kak Ita, are referred to Iban history as Anak Umbung  (the prettiest lady). In Iban culture, the stronger the energy focused in making a Pua design, the closer one gets to the spiritual realm.There are different techniques in making different styles of Pua;  the Pua Kumbu refers to tie-and-dye, while the Pua Karap refers to hand weaving a design first, before using weaving tools.

Watch Kak Ita teach Arabyrd how to make the Pua Kumbu, which is regarded as the oldest tradition of the Iban community and the most valuable asset of the Iban ladies, one is left with hope that these traditions will remain time-honoured traditions for generations to come. Get stuck into The Cloth Story on TVS Astro on Youtube!


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