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Mardziah, a Third-generation Tekat Embroiderer in Kuala Kangsar

My first introduction to seni kraf tekatan was at the Kuala Kangsar public library on January 9, 2023. Areca Books hosted an exhibition there called Kuala Kangsar: Pesona Bandar Diraja.

It was both enjoyable and educational, and our son Ashraf seemed to have a great time. The exhibition featured beautiful photographs in large prints and concise, easy-to-read essays in both English and Bahasa Melayu.

From that exhibition, we learned about the history of some of the fascinating places in Kuala Kangsar, its rich cultural heritage in art and architecture, and various other traditions that have long been forgotten. One of the sections in the exhibition focused on tekat embroiderer Mardziah Abu Kassim.

Seni kraf tekatan is a type of embroidery that uses gold threads to create shapes and patterns on cloth, usually velvet. The gold threads are stitched over pre-cut paper templates. Other names for seni kraf tekatan include bersuji, tuji timbul, suji timbulan, or simply tekatan.

This Malay art of embroidery is particularly popular in the state of Perak, where it has been passed down through generations since ancient times. Historically, it was used to embellish royal garments for the Sultan of Perak.

Initially, seni kraf tekatan was exclusive to royalty, with tekat artisans employed at the palace. The palace required skilled artisans to create sophisticated, luxurious gold-threaded tekat products, which served as high-status institutional items for the royal family.

Today, the Malaysian government has entrusted the preservation of seni kraf tekatan to various local figures in Perak, including Anatishaah bt. Bilai Din, Ahdijah bt. Hasim dan Hajah Azizah Mohamad Yusof.

Hajah Azizah, a renowned tekat artisan and teacher, learned the craft from her mother. Azizah has received numerous accolades in her career, including Adiguru Kraf in 1994 and Tokoh Kraf Negara in 2018. She has passed on her knowledge to her daughter, Mardziah Abu Kassim.

Mardziah, a third-generation tekat artisan, now teaches the craft herself. She hails from Air Tawar, Perak, and is the eighth child out of nine siblings. Her family has been creating tekat for centuries, with their oldest piece dating back two centuries.

Throughout the years since she was a child, Mardziah actively participated in demonstration sessions alongside her mother, consistently following and observing her mother’s progress at various programs and exhibitions.

Mardziah currently runs and operates Gesamas Sdn Bhd in Kuala Kangsar, where she produces a variety of tekat items, including exquisite food covers and pillowcases, as well as more affordable pieces for everyday use.

In addition to fulfilling orders from local and prominent figures, Mardziah also teaches seni kraf tekatan to those interested in learning. Her passion for seni kraf tekatan is evident in her work and her dedication to preserving this Malay art of embroidery. Mardziah can be reached at +60192141866. Here’s the full address of her physical shop in Kuala Kangsar: No. E18, Kedai Mini MPKK, Tepi Sungai Perak, Jalan Nakhoda, Kuala Kangsar, Perak, Malaysia.


References:

Ramli, H., Said, T. S., Aik, H. C. H., Esham, M. F., Jamaldin, S. S., Anuar, R., & Nor, M. M. (2023). Kearifan Lokal Menerusi Legasi Generasi Tokoh Seni Kraf Tekat Perak: Kajian Kes Terhadap Karya-Karya Marziah binti Abu Kassim. Jurnal Peradaban Melayu18(1), 1-11.

Traditional Malay Couched Embroidery ‘Tekat Benang Emas’ and Community in Padang Changkat Kuala Kangsar, Perak.” (n.d.). Retrieved from https://ir.uitm.edu.my/id/eprint/81680/

Yusof, S., Aris, A., & Sajar, N. (2018). Recreating the Malay traditional Tekat embroidery for its preservation and continuity as a cultural heritage. In Proceedings of the Art and Design International Conference (AnDIC 2016) (pp. 421-429). Springer Singapore.

Kuala Kangsar: Pesona Bandar Diraja – Areca Books. (2023, January 5). Areca Books. https://arecabooks.com/kualakangsar/

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