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Background to the Exhibition

Updated: Jun 4, 2022

The Splendours of Malay World Textiles is an Exhibition that evolved from the formation of a comprehensive Trans-Regional representative collection of Malay textiles by John Ang.

Beauty and Diversity

Throughout the process of collecting, John was struck by the immeasurable beauty of Malay textiles in terms of their color combinations, creative designs, and their amazing array of shapes, forms, and sizes. The large number of categories according to techniques also impressed John. He found that besides songket and batik, there are at least 10 other categories of Malay textiles of which even his Malay friends were unaware. What better way to share these than through a comprehensive exhibition that showcases all the 12 categories?

Amazing Trans-Regional Connections

What excited John most is the intimate connection between distant Malay kingdoms. This was revealed to him through similarities in the textile structures and designs of different lands despite their separation by vast stretches of sea and modern borders. The study of Malay textiles inevitably cannot be conducted regionally. For a deeper comprehension of the significance of these diverse textiles, studies have to be conducted trans-regionally. This is why the Exhibition is not about Malay textiles of any specific region, but rather, it is about the textiles of the Malay world, incorporating all the Malay communities of Southeast Asia.

Archival Importance

When a significant number of Malay textiles of different areas and periods are brought together a clearer perspective of what they represent becomes evident. Fashion trends begin to appear, and aspects of Malay history that have long been forgotten are unveiled. Recording, cataloging, and dividing them into their various categories helps form an archival repository and reference resource that future researchers of Malay history and culture can refer to. In fact, this repository can be used by anyone, whether historians, writers, designers, fashion enthusiasts, movie directors, architects, artists, etc. It is an inspirational foundation from which creative energy can spring forth.

A Mission Orientation

A mission is what one finds utmost joy in doing and at the same time also contributes to society. There is nothing that makes John happier than discovering beautiful textiles and sharing with others as much information about them as he can. This exhibition attempts to fulfill that mission.

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Introducing John Ang

John was born in Chicago, USA of Singapore parents. He received his B.A. and M.A. in Asian Art History at the University of Michigan. After two years in Tokyo as an art journalist for the Japan Times,


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