KUALA LUMPUR: Not many people may have heard about ‘limar’ textiles as they are not as well-known as other types of ‘songket’ fabrics. But ‘limar’ is a part of the nation’s Malay textile heritage that deserves to be celebrated and treasured.

‘Limar’ is expensive to produce due to the silk thread binding techniques used in weaving the textile, which also incorporates intricate motifs, gold threads and an elaborate dyeing process.

Once upon a time, ‘limar’ was popular among the nobility and royal families in Kelantan and Terengganu.

In view of its exclusivity and value, renowned Malaysian fashion designer Salikin Sidek, 60, was willing to spend over RM10,000 just to have a ‘limar’ fabric, said to be more than 150 years old, in his possession.

He said the textile’s delicate weaving technique and meticulous craftsmanship were among the factors that compelled him to acquire it from a textile collector in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, 10 years ago.

“This ‘limar’ fabric has very high sentimental value for me, especially since it is a legacy from the nobility. As someone who is passionate about collecting textiles, I sought it out to add it to my personal collection,” he said when met by Bernama recently.

Salikin Sidek, who owns a boutique called Mahligai Salikin Sidek and is known for his expertise in designing traditional Malay attire, said as an owner of heritage fabrics like ‘limar’, the main challenge he faces is maintaining and preserving them so that they remain in good condition and do not deteriorate.

“I’ve wrapped and rolled the ‘limar’ cloth with a piece of ‘belacu’ cloth because it (‘belacu’) is made of natural fibres which would ensure the ‘limar’ fabric is not exposed to heat... heat can easily deteriorate the fabric.

“I’ve kept my prized possession in a clean cupboard where it will remain safe,” he said.

Salikin, who is a committee member of the Malaysian Traditional Textile Lovers Association (CITRA), added he is now producing new ‘limar’ fabrics to add to his personal collection, which is expected to grow in value in the future.

Salikin also said ‘limar’ fabrics are no longer limited to the nobility and royalty and that anyone who can afford their price tags can use them now.

“When we weave new ‘limar’ cloth, its quality is better than its heritage equivalent. Although newly woven, we can still maintain the original features and craftsmanship to preserve its authentic identity. I’m hiring weavers from Palembang, Indonesia, who can produce good quality authentic ‘limar’ fabrics with traditional designs,” he said.

He also said the value of heritage ‘limar’ fabrics would depend on when they were produced.

“The older it is, the more expensive it becomes,” he said, adding meticulous care is key to the fabric’s durability.

‘Limar’, he said, is the “king of all fabrics”, adding a piece of ‘limar’ cloth now costs around RM25,000 to RM100,000.

“It takes up to six months to weave a piece of ‘limar’ cloth whereas regular ‘songket’ only takes about a month,” he said.