Yeoh Jin Leng presents his personal collection of Asian Ceremonial Textiles at NN Gallery from 7th till 30th October 2006.
My Pride & Joy
‘A Collection of Asian Ceremonial Textiles’ from the private collection of Yeoh Jin Leng
This collection of textiles from the region is a personal one, a collection made over half
a century of travel into the remote regions of this country and Southeast Asia since the 1950s.
I do not claim to be an authority on textiles. Limited by funds, I have collected affordable items
out of love for the exquisite skills, design and symbolic motifs and patterns with underlying
meanings embedded and woven into the cloths, particularly cloths of home-spun threads using
natural dyes woven on back-strap or simple looms.
Every piece is unique and different. Weaving techniques are distinctively specific to the district
where cloths are woven. These are resplendently created to celebrate the varied cultural
traditions by women of the many ethnic minority peoples who live in remote regions in a natural
environment with little contact of the outside world. Some recent collections are from a visit
to the colourful ethnic minority people, the Miaos, who live and farm in the mountainous region
of Guizhou. With development and the devastating effects of the instruments of globalization,
they are wonderful traditions transmitted through the generations that will soon disappear,
if not already lost like the kain limar of Kelantan and Terengganu, the pua kumbu of the Ibans
in Sarawak, or the fine nilo silver-work once produced in Perak.
Needless to say that there is a high correlation in relation to motifs and patterns from amongst
the textiles produced in the region, suggesting significant historical links with meanings to
a common esoteric response to Nature or cosmic creation. In the region of Southeast Asia
alone, we have an extensive range of cultural artifacts not only in textiles but also in various
crafts of material culture. There are opportunities for deeper research into the textiles of
the region, particularly relating to the cultural motifs and patterns with underlying symbolic
meanings, expressing realities of a higher level of consciousness with regard to life and rites
of passage. Women are central to the home as mothers and progenitors of the human race.
They have woven cloths of great beauty and that tradition is now threatened by the intrusion
of utilitarian culture of capitalistic dimension and falling, as Sri Aurobindo once said, into
the “mould of occidental modernism”.