This sarong of striped blue kain tenun (literally, ‘woven cloth’) was acquired new in the 1930s or earlier by a British colonial official, Alwyn Sidney Haynes (1878-1963), and it appears to be the sarong he wore in Malaya. It is in worn condition and is embroidered in green thread with his name ‘A S Haynes’.
As with the Dutch in the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia), it was not unusual for British administrators in Malaya to wear their official, European clothes during the day but to don cooler ‘native’ garments when at home in the evenings.
The sarong was brought back to England in the 1930s and has been in storage since.
Kain tenun was handwoven often by small family enterprises in the traditional way using the Malay or Siamese floor weaving loom known as a kek Siam. It was produced on the Malay peninsula, mostly in Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang states. The resulting textile was used for sarongs but also for kain samping – the shorty sarongs Malay men traditionally wore over their trousers. Kain tenun was also tailored into traditional shirts for women (known as baju kurung and baju kebaya) and shirts for men (baju Melayu). The finest producers of kain tenun received commissions to supply the Malay peninsula’s many royal courts for most of the sultans, their families, and officials all wore the textile.
The example here has minor fading and wear but no holes or repairs.
Ismail, M.S.Z., et al., Muzium Tekstil Negara/National Textile Museum, Department of Museums Malaysia, 2012.
Uda, Y.M.R.D.P. Fuziah Raja Tun et al., Tradition & Continuity: Woven and Decorated Textiles of the Malay Peninsula, Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia, 2013.