Queen of Malaysia presents Malaysian Heritage Crafts

This week, Queen Azizah of Malaysia is holding ‘Abstract Nature’, an interactive exhibition that highlights traditional Malaysian Heritage Crafts and Techniques at the Malaysian High Commission in London as part of London Craft Week. We were lucky enough to visit the Exhibition earlier this week, where Queen Azizah described how this exhibition showcases Malaysia’s rich cultural heritage through its exquisite craft traditions, while also highlighting Her Majesty’s social and charitable patronages.

Designed by renowned curator Judith Clark, the exhibition highlights craft traditions with roots in Malaysia’s indigenous communities, among them the Orang Asli Semelai from Pahang, Mah Meri from Selangor and ethnic Orang Asal tribes in Sabah and Sarawak, in installations inspired by tradition architectural proportions, as well as themes of indigenous flora and fauna from across the Malaysian landscape. 

The textiles on display highlight a variety of Malaysian spectacular textile traditions, which include the handwoven songket brocade presented by Queen Nur Zahirah of Terengganu’s Songket Foundation as well as an extraordinary display of Lady Brooke of Sarawak’s Keringkam on loan from the Brooke Trust. Additionally, there are also spectacular displays of Ikat Iban which highlight the customs of the indigenous Iban peoples. 

In addition to the exhibition, there are also a series of workshops and interactive displays, which show master craftspeople at work with displays of wood carving, telepuk (textile gilding), basketry, mat-weaving, songket (brocade) and tribal beading. The Brooke Museums Manager is on on site to deliver workshops on the Ranee’s story and the history and cultural significance of Sarawak Keringkam to its people, with each featuring a live demonstration by Ros Salleh, a master Keringkam craftswoman, alongside other master craftspeople. Also on display was the Malaysian King and Queen’s official gift to King Charles III to mark his Coronation.


We had a wonderful meeting with Her Majesty Queen Azizah in which she described the origins of Tenun Pahang Diraja, the Royal Pahang Weave Foundation, which was founded by Her Majesty in 2005 to revive and preserve traditional weaving techniques and employs the inhabitants of male prisons, giving them a new lease on life and essential skills that guarantee them employment though their time in prison and following their release. The Queen’s admirable initiative gives gainful employment while preserving traditional craft techniques and highlighting Malaysia’s rich cultural heritage around the world. 

We went back to the Exhibition today (after the article was published), having another lovely audience with the Queen, who showed us that the spectacular outfit she wore for the Coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla, that is also going on display.

In addition to the main exhibits and workshops, there are also spectacular displays of examples of splendid textiles created by Tenun Pahang Diraja, the Royal Pahang Weave Foundation, which has gained much attention in recent years for dressing Queen Azizah and members of the Royal Family, as well as being used in domestic interiors. There were also more abstract textiles on display from Pink Jambu.

Her Majesty Queen Azizah of Malaysia Presents Malaysia’s Heritage Crafts is on display at the High Commission of Malaysia in Belgrave Square until May 14th. It is open every day from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm. Entry is Free. 


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