Traditional woven textiles: tradition and identity construction in the 'new state' of Brunei Darussalam

Siti Norkhalbi Haji Wahsalfelah

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Since its independence in 1984, politicians and nationalists in Brunei Darussalam have appealed to traditions in their efforts to create a national identity based on Brunei Darussalam’s national philosophy, `Malay Islamic Monarchy’. Weaving is one of the traditions related to Brunei traditional culture, thus traditional textile is used to construct national identity. This study focuses on the role played by powerful institutions in the creation of new tradition in order to foster national awareness in the `new state’ of Brunei Darussalam and I examine how traditional textiles are incorporated into the project of nation building. In Bruneian society, traditional woven cloths have multiple roles whose meanings vary according to the situation in which the traditional cloth is utilized. This research explores the significance of traditional textiles in Brunei Darussalam, focusing on the consumption of locally woven textiles in its traditions and the relationships to the expression and construction of identity. Since Islam came to Brunei Darussalam, it has become one of the predominant markers of identity of the Malays. This study analyse the influence of Islam in the production and consumption of traditional textile in Brunei Darussalam. The continuity of the production and consumption of traditional woven textile in Brunei Darussalam is very much dependent on its significant in the traditions of Brunei society as a whole. In order to prove this, this study focuses its investigation upon the production and uses of traditional textiles in the social customs of Malay society in Brunei Darussalam. Traditional woven textiles are employed to construct social identity in the reproduction of distinction. Traditional textiles are also offered to signify privilege and power. I examine how traditional textile is being used to distinguish social status and political prominence, denote offices, and display wealth and prestige.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Publication statusUnpublished - 2005

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