This exhibition showed some of the range of Indonesian songket weaving. Magnificence in dress has been a way in the past for princes especially in Java and Sumatra to symbolise their wealth and power. Gold smithing and textile weaving gravitated to the royal capitals. Textiles using metallic threads were seen as a way to reaffirm authority, and silk and gold textiles signified difference in social hierarchy.

Songket is the term used for a textile patterning woven by adding an additional set of weft metallic threads. These are woven in between two regular wefts. The effect brings an almost three-dimensional look as well as creating additional patterns.

More recently the term has been extended to include cotton or silk supplementary threads. In some parts of Indonesia, in Kalimantan for instance, the Iban people reserve for this genre of weaving the term pilih, but more generally across the archipelago it is now common to hear the term songket used for all forms of weaving with supplementary threads.

Some weaving centres are experimenting with additions of embroidery and lace trimming as well.

Some metallic threads were made by Indonesian craftsmen themselves. They drew precious metals through successively smaller holes in a perforated plate, a draw plate. Then they had to heat the metal and hammer it at regular intervals so as to realign its crystalline structure and to prevent it from becoming brittle. The eventually fine ribbon was then spun around a cotton or silk core.