RIAU ISLANDS SHAWLS

Considered to be one of the most distinct traditional textiles produced on the Riau Islands, east of Sumatra, tudung mantos (wedding shawls) are distinguished by a double sided embroidery technique using flat silver or gold plated ribbons. This technique gives the fabric its signature luxuriant shimmer.

While their exact origins are obscure, and there are parallels with the Middle Eastern assuit as well as the Indian kamdani, the spread of the technique and the shawls through the Malayan maritime empire was due to the vast network of trade relations in the region. The shawls are popular due to their light weight as well as their ease of packing and carrying.

Tudung mantos are made by Riau women from transparent gauze cloth with needles featuring two holes at the head, helping the thread or ribbon to stay in place and preventing it from slipping off without having to tie a knot at the end. The embroiderers complete the weaving process by using the back of a cowry shell to flatten the embroidered ribbons, creating consistent flatness. The shawls come in many colours, with each colour signifying a specific occasion, such as a wedding or completion of Hajj.