Tuesday, February 27, 2024
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Breathing new life into age-old practice

In the quest for sustainable and reusable alternatives to single-use plastic, an intriguing solution may lie in an age-old practice that has been refined and passed down through generations: basket weaving.

With an origin rooted in the use of nipah leaves in the past, the art of basket weaving has continually evolved.

Modern baskets now feature colourful plastic strips intricately woven into fashionable and reusable patterns. This dynamic fusion of tradition and innovation has captivated the imaginations of both the elderly and the younger generation.

It serves as a bridge between centuries-old practices, breathing new life into age-old traditions and reimagining them for the modern era.

Woven baskets on display at the workshop. PHOTO: DANIEL LIM

The enduring spirit of creativity and community is on full display as the effervescent art of plastic basket weaving weaves its way into the hearts of people of all ages, evidence to the enduring legacy of a craft that surpasses generations, offering a gateway to boundless creative possibilities.

In preserving this historic art, the Belait District branch of the Youth and Sports Department has emerged as a crucial hub for this endeavour by hosting a plastic weaving basket workshop.

The Bulletin spoke with a group of enthusiastic young participants during the workshop, offering a fascinating glimpse into this intricate world.

The shared their insights on how this ancient art form has not only inspired their curiosity but also led them to explore its adaptation in the context of the modern age. “This was my first experience in a workshop like this, and I joined to delve deeper into the craft and expand my knowledge,” said Siti Nur Ayza Azurine binti Ayahani, expressing her motivation for participating in the plastic basket-making workshop.

Siti Nur Ayza Azurine binti Ayahani. PHOTO: DANIEL LIM

Hanna Maisarah binti Haji Abdul Razak, driven by her personal interest in basket weaving, shared, “My decision to participate in this workshop was fuelled by my desire to learn the art of basket weaving, and it provided an excellent chance to further enrich my understanding.”

She explained how the workshop offered a unique opportunity to enhance her “fine motor skills” while gaining insight into the intricate world of basket weaving.

Hanna Maisarah binti Haji Abdul Razak practising her basket weaving skills in the workshop. PHOTO: DANIEL LIM

For Siti Nur’Ainuna Mahirah binti Haji Wahid, the rarity of courses and workshops dedicated to basket weaving made the workshop particularly captivating. She reflected, “Opportunities like these are scarce, making this workshop an engaging and valuable use of my free time spent with friends.”

With a group of participants brimming with enthusiasm and a keen desire to acquire new skills, Siti Nur’Ainuna Mahirah expressed that their initial encounter with basket weaving was undoubtedly unfamiliar, presenting quite a challenge for the participants.

“Adapting to the art of weaving baskets took some time, but I must say, we were fortunate to have dedicated instructors who were always there to guide us.

“Their unwavering commitment made it possible for us to gain a comprehensive understanding of the craft, from mastering various weaving techniques to acquiring the skills needed to create an array of basket designs,” she added.

Hanna Maisarah echoed similar sentiments, emphasising her surprise at the learning experience while participating in a workshop of this nature for the first time. She elaborated that it was her senior members who guided her, adjusting to her pace and making the journey enjoyable and informative.

What initially started as a unique and inaugural opportunity for many of the attending youth has now transformed into a profound recognition of basket weaving’s unexplored potential, extending well beyond its traditional roots.

The impact of their participation in the basket weaving workshop has been far-reaching.

The knowledge and skills acquired have not only ignited their creative expressions through intricately woven baskets but also opened doors to the possibility of sharing and even selling these unique creations to friends and family. This not only preserves a traditional craft but also allows it to flourish in contemporary contexts, fostering a sense of continuity and entrepreneurial spirit among the youth.

“For me, the tradition of weaving baskets should be preserved as it not only forms a core pillar in our heritage but also as opportunities to explore potential business ventures,” said Siti Nur’Ainuna Mahirah binti Haji Wahid.

Recognising the boundless potential of this craft to empower local youth, the Belait District Branch of the Youth and Sports Department has taken a proactive role in bridging the generational gap.

They’ve not only connected experienced seniors skilled in basket weaving with curious, eager youth through engaging workshops like the one under discussion but have also set a shining example for future workshops to emulate.

The impact of these basket-weaving workshops, however, extends far beyond economic considerations. They foster a profound sense of belonging and camaraderie within the community. The elders, once apprehensive about the gradual erosion of their age-old traditions, now find comfort in the fact that their knowledge and expertise are not only embraced but also cherished by the younger generation.

These sentiments are eloquently shared by Siti Nur Ayza Azurine, who articulates her hope that “similar workshops will continue into the future, safeguarding the tradition of basket weaving, especially among the youth. This, in turn, ensures the preservation and transmission of this age-old art to forthcoming generations”.

A woman demonstrates basket weaving during a workshop. PHOTO: DANIEL LIM

The workshops like the one at hand represent a captivating melting pot of ideas, cultures, and experiences, seamlessly intertwining the past and the present.

Siti Nur’Ainuna Mahirah draws attention to this fusion, noting that “In contrast to earlier times when nipah leaves were employed for basket weaving, modern materials that are not only durable but also fashionable have gained prominence. – Daniel Lim