National Textile Museum – Kuala Lumpur

Imagine unleashing a hyperactive kid inside a candy store!!…. Now crank up the crazy a few levels up!…  What you get is “me” inside the National Museum of Textile in Kuala Lumpur!!

I’m a fashion fanatic! I love everything that has anything to do with fashion, I live fashion! And I also love travel as much as I love fashion! So when I search for things to do or places to see at “where ever i’m shipping myself to next”, I never forget to pull up a few fashion related places/ or activities to balance the crazy in me.

whether it’s a museum or a workshop or even just a traditional authentic fabric shop, if its anywhere near where i’m at, you WILL find me there! Every time I end up coming home with a head full of ideas and a bag full of fabrics (so much for my minimalist travel goals!)

The National Textile Museum in Kuala Lumpur was one such precious findings of mine, while planing my trip to Malaysia. This museum is truly under rated compared to other tourist attractions in KL, as many don’t even know of its existence. But trust me when I say, visiting this museum was one of the best things I did in KL. It may only be appealing to a certain genera of crazy ( such as “me”) but I do feel it has something to make everyone happy. And if you are not as crazy as I am about fashion and textiles, you can just drop in for a swift glance through the galleries and you will be done in less than half an hour. Located in Merdeka square the museum is not that hard to find, nor is it off the normal tourist route so you won’t be making any detours. And best of all entry is free! (so basically its regret proof!)

To get to the museum you can ether directly take a taxi, use the rapid-KL bus route or the “Hop on Hop off ” bus (stop number 17).

The museum is housed in a beautiful heritage building of Neo- Maugal style architecture, which is a combination of  elements from Maugal – Islamic style architecture and British architecture. Just the building alone can give an art lover a rush!


The museum is mainly divided in to 4 galleries and one small gallery that houses special exhibitions.

  1. Pohon Budi gallery
  2. Pelangi Gallery
  3. Teluk Berantai gallery
  4. Ratna sari gallery
  5. Saindera Gallery- which houses special exhibitions.

From textiles, traditional dress forms to jewelry, the content of the museum displays the history and diversity of the textile industry of Malaysia in a very comprehensive manner. It also showcases how techniques from different cultures can influence each other to create a unique and beautiful culture of its own.

The most interesting aspect of this museum for me is that they have displayed many of the traditional processes in “step by step” form so anyone interested can learn and understand the process in depth.

Step by Step – Batik 


The Ratna Sari Gallery houses a collection of traditional jewellery and adornments that belong to the different ethnic groups of Malaysia. Ranging from head ornaments, crowns, beaded shoes to Kamarbands the pieces on display showcases the impressive craftsmanship of this ethnically diverse country.


Throughout the museum you will come across mannequins displaying the different traditional costumes of Malaysia bringing life in to the textiles.

Traditional hand embroidery techniques, Sarawak beading techniques, Baba and Nyonya beading techniques, traditional motif designs, gold thread embroidery, weaving patterns are just a few of the traditional textile related art forms that can be observed throughout the museum.

And as it turns out we were lucky to come across a special exhibition on ethnic head dresses that was on display in a small room on the top most floor of the building. The artistry of there unique traditional head ornaments were breath taking and mesmerizing.

If your curiosity towards Malaysian culture and costumes has  been awoken, a more comprehensive explanation can be found in one of my previous articles which you can read here.

According to the brochure, the museum is open daily from 9.00 am till 6.00 pm. I was extremely luck to be there at a time when there was hardly anyone inside the museum other than me,  the unfortunate souls i dragged there by force and 1 or 2 rushed visitors who couldn’t care less. This gave me all the freedom in the world to run around like a crazy kid to my hearts content!!

So if you are someone interested in learning about textile and fashion history of Malaysia do visit the National Textile Museum and be inspired by all that it has to offer. And even if you are not interested in such thematic museums do drop by just to get the feel of it, you never know you might end up falling in love with textiles.

Until next time,

Safe travels

Malaysia- Culture and Costumes!!

Malaysia, being a multi-cultural country is a true example of how different cultures can live and thrive together in harmony. The many cultural groups present in this country complement and influence each other to create a unique Malaysian culture. Each cultural group has their own traditional food, costumes and festivals that distinguish them from each other.

During the few days I was in Malaysia I got to experience and learn about the Malaysian culture as a whole and also about the different cultural groups that live in Malaysia. Being a fashion addict my main focus was to understand and get inspired by the traditional costumes and related art. I must say other than what I got to learn from interacting with the locals I found a lot of information about this topic from the National Museum (Malaysia) in Kuala Lumpur, the Malacca Sultanate palace Museum and also from the National Textile museum in Kuala Lumpur. So if you want to learn about traditional costumes and art definitely visit them and you will be surprised as to how much this country has to offer.

As the first in a series of articles (Hopefully!!) about Malaysian culture, this article will give you an idea about the different ethnic groups and their traditional costumes.


  • Orang Asli

Orang Asli is a term used to refer to the indigenous people of Malaysia. Their traditional costume is made out of natural materials such as the bark of the tree Ipoh and Terap and grass. They also adorn accessories such as head dresses and shoulder sash made from the same materials.


  • The India Community

The traditional attire commonly worn by the ladies is the Saree and they are usually heavily adorned with jewelry. Also Punjabi suit, zalwar kameez and cholis are popular among them. The men wear a Dohti with a shirt and shawl or kurti with pants.


  • The Chitty Community

The Chitty community commonly found in Malacca and Singapore are known as Hindu Peranakan community and also as Melakan chitty. The Chitty women usually wear the Kebaya Panjung or the Kebaya Pendek with a sarong and Men wear dohti with shirt or sarong or kain pelekat with a head turban.


  • The Serani Community

This community is of Asian and European parentage. According to the information given at the National Museum (Malaysia) the older women of this community wears the long Kebaya and batik sarong and the men wear Kain pelekat at home. During festivals such as San Pedro men wear jackets and trousers with waist band and ladies wear front layered skirts. The traditional clothes of this community are dominated by the colors red and black.


  • The Sikh Community

The ladies of the Sikh community wears the Punjabi dress or Salwar kamees and the men wear Kurti with pants and a mandatory head turban.


  • The Siamese Community

Malaysian Siamese community is of partial of full Thai descent. The traditional attire worn by both women and men are of Thai origin.


  • The Baba Nyonya Community

This community is of Straits born Chinese descent. The women of this community wears a elegant, vibrant and colorful Kebaya with intricate embroidery. The Kebaya is long sleeved blouse with bottoms in the front and is decorated with three broaches. They pair this blouse with a batik sarong and wear the traditional beaded slippers called Kasot Manek.


  • The Malay Community

Originally the Malay women used to wear attire called Kemban where a piece of cloth is wrapped above the chest. Then it got modified in to the Baju Kurung which is a knee length blouse worn over a long skirt which is paired with a head scarf or a shawl. For men it is Baju melayu which is a loose tunic worn over trousers. A short sarong known as sampan is wrapped around the hip and also a songkok is worn on the head.


The Kemban


The Baju Kurung

  • The Chinese Community

Women wear the popular Cheongsam, a long high collared dress with buttons near the  shoulder. These dresses are made of shimmering fabrics such as Silk in mostly bright colors.

So this is what I was able to find out about the Malaysian culture and their traditional costumes. Hope you enjoyed this article and if there is anything you want to add to this article feel free to comment!! 🙂