Pua Kumbu – Dream Weavers
The Pua Kumbu was used extensively by the Ibans in various traditional and religious ceremonies. The cloth welcomed the newborn baby, appeased the spirits after a headhunting expedition or were hung overhead as a canopy during weddings.
The Pua Kumbu designs can symbolise mythological, religious or personal tales. Â But they are all artistic expressions of the Iban weaver that come to them in dreams. Â A family is said to own â€ś copyrightâ€ť over its designs, and if another family wishes to copy the same design, royalties in the form of baskets of rice, a corkerel, or the yearâ€™s harvest need to paid.
The Pua Kumbu today stirs a different kind of curiosity when a local fashion designer, Edric Ong stumbled upon the idea of galvanising the dying heritage as textile art. Â He coordinates the weaving community at selected Iban Longhouse community and encourage the women to experiment with new dyeing techniques. Â So exquisite are the pua kumbu produced by the weavers that they have been awarded the UNESCO-AHPADA Seal of Excellence. Â This recognition has helped revive interest in Pua Kumbu and improved the Ibanâ€™s women livelihood. Â However, Weavers cannot be rushed to weave on the spot.
As designs are inspired from dreams, they generally take six months to make an exquisite piece. But what is a six-month wait to acquire and enjoy an exquisite piece of artwork?