Searching for Kumang ......is a personal journey discovering the beautiful Iban hand woven textile art known as the pua kumbu. Embarked as an anthropological research at Universiti Malaya, Kuala Lumpur since 2012 (Biotech Flagship Grant),2013-2016 (HIR Grant), 2016 (KTP Grant), the research has traveled farther to include community engagement that has led to the establishment of a community enterprise with a registered trademark (RhGareh Borneo Natural) in 2015. In the same year, an international exhibition known as Textile Tales of Pua Kumbu officiated at the Universiti Malaya Art Gallery. The 2nd series took place in 2016 at the same venue but Textile Tales of Pua Kumbu has matured in its content adding, The Sacred Journey to the exhibition and was twice the scale of the first exhibition. Reflecting upon the journey of the research, Textile Tales of Pua Kumbu exhibitions are a re-presentation of the cultural imaginary. Most interestingly, the exhibition was no longer nestled at the UM Art Gallery after 2016. The fact that the exhibition has attracted a more public engagement gave a sign that the mission of the exhibition, engaging with public has been successfully executed. Evidently, the journey to sharing of knowledge through these exhibitions have first; traveled back to Sarawak in Rain Forest Fringe Festival, followed by the introduction to a wider public engagement in Georgetown Festival in Penang in 2017, and traveled to Paris in 2018.
The pua kumbu is a warp-patterned ceremonial blanket produced using the tie-dye weaving technique and was produced in an environment where weavers were engaged in the Iban belief system, cosmology and spirit world. Nowadays, pua kumbu is more than just a ceremonial blanket. Its aesthetic value and the spiritual mystery outlook it offers has made pua kumbu the most mesmerised clothes that wearing one as a shawl is like wearing a piece of art!