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Origin And Importance Of Rattan Weaving Cultural Studies Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Cultural Studies
Wordcount: 2948 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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A traditional mode of occupation to some of our local people. Mostly the weavers are blind people which had been trained by Ministry of Welfare to give this people a chance to earn and make living with this job.

It is also one of Terengganu famous craft that can be bought as a souvenir or can be use in a daily work.

Its is one way of diversifying the handicraft products and develop this family business into a more systematic industry producing long term, high standard quality products, that are able to penetrate the tourist and commercial markets.

Mengkuang (screw pine leaves) or pandanus weaving is one of the traditional arts still very much alive and its products are still in demand. The Mengkuang and pandan leaves are found abundance in the local jungles.

The leaves are first cut in long strips and dried in the sun. Once dried, it is boiled and dyed with vegetable colours. Still using the traditional weaving techniques, the mengkuang or pandan leaves are coiled, plaited, twined and woven to create beautifully products such as mats, conical food covers, grocery bags, hand fans, baskets, tissue decorative boxes, hats, handbags, slippers, purses and pencil cases.

The potential of Mengkuang/pandan has been tapped into and creating increasing demands by tourists and locals. The Mengkuang/pandan finished products are widely available at the Central Market and souvenir shops.

Wau Making

Wau (pronounce as ‘wow’) can appear in all shapes and size but the most popular and famous kite is the moon kite (Wau Bulan) and cat kite (Wau Kucing) in the east coast. Kite making requires patience and tremendous skill. Bamboo will be cut and make into the frame or skeleton of the kite. The best time to cut the bamboo is in November or December and this will be kept for 10 months before it is split and soaked in water followed by heated to straighten and toughen. On the other hand, designs are traced on a tinted and shiny glazed paper and then carefully cut out and pasted on paper which is glued to the bamboo skeleton.

The designs are normally flowers with vines which signifies women (flower) and man (vine), eg. if the flowers are in bud form, it symbolizes a young woman etc.

In some older designs, flowers were drawn from the side and back to represent the shy and reserved personality of female in those days whereas for the vines, the more meandering the vines, the more twists and turns in a man’s life. There are also wau’s that are made using the batik technique or painted by batik artists and the designs are always more creative and less formalized by tradition.

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It is never an easy job to fly a Wau kite into the sky. A traditional Wau can be as big as 3.5m in height and 2.5 m wing span and usually needs the help of a group of person to bring it to the sky. To choose a good kite, you should look at the harmonious colours matched and the flowers as well as the vines drawn which represent the inner state of the kite maker.

In a windy day, a Wau can fly up to 450m into the sky.


Hand drawn batik is an exquisite and delicate art which requires skill, patience, meticulousness, flair and creativity. Batik is intrinsic to the fashion world, be it in cotton or silk or in the making of sarongs, scarf, pareos, shirts, shorts, handbags, purses and even shoes. Terengganu batik shows originality and is not commercialised thus, retaining its price for the quality of the material and the elegance of the designs.

A special wax is mixed with amber and boiled over a slow fire to maintain the optimum temperature. On white cotton or silk fabrics, a special copper ‘chanting’ pen dipped with the wax. The designs reflect nature-based motifs such as floral prints and marine life to produce a freestyle handrawn motifs.

Each drawings are different. Another method is by using either tin, copper or brass block print stamped with flowers or abstract designs. They are first dipped into the wax and then used to print the designs on the white fabrics.

Colours will be added after the wax had dried. Different colours can be added without spreading onto other parts as the wax creates sections within the designs. The fabrics will then dipped in boiling water to wash off the wax and to strengthen the colours before the batik can be made into different products.

The elegant prints stand out on men’s shirts and women’s dresses. Batik souvenirs include pareos, scarfs, wall panels, neckties, handbags, purses and shoes. Contemporary batik designs are also being introduced as designer wear, to alleviate batik to exclusive international standards.

Batiks are available at various shops especially at the central market. Watch out though for low quality batik sold at exorbitant price.

The colours are easily come off, usually on the first wash. Buying at an established batik shops therefore guarantees the quality of the products.


The origins of the many different colourful and traditional textile are lost in antiquity. The art of songket weaving consist of using traditional heirloom to make intricate songket brocade through painstaking weaving with gold or silver threads. Songket is a rich fabric that is worn only on auspicious occasions and used to be the textiles of royalty. It is now the headgear of Sultans, Chief Ministers and the State’s Cabinet members.

The weaving process usually takes a few days for normal and simple designs songket cloth but for more intricate designs, usually takes more than two weeks and can costs thousands of Malaysian Ringgit. Several shops in Kuala Terengganu sell this regal fabric that comes in an array of both vibrant and pastel shades.

The elegant and exquisite songket is slowly being introduced into the international fashion scene by adapting it to a more contemporary style.

Wood Carving

Wood carving was originally found in houses of sulatans or Malay nobility as part of their interior decoration and the craftsmen were commissioned for their services. Because human depiction is prohibited in Islam, Malay wood carving gets its inspiration from flora, animal motif and Islamic art but this has never influence its finest artistically designs. Terengganu wood carving not only found in the beams, doorways, window shutters of a house, but also in the traditional boat making industry and some furniture items such as sofa, bed frame and mirror frame and as small as a jewelry box.


The people in Terengganu are well known for their creativeness. A simple item will turn into a most exquisite and delicate article by their hands. Brassware is generally a cottage activity. It is very usual that the son will learn the skill and trading strategy from his father whom had also learned from his father and later brings forth to the next generations. Regardless whether it is from silver, wood or pewter, brassware like vases, ashtrays, jugs, candle stands, napkin holders, filigree jewellery, incense burners etc are turned into a piece of fine and presentable art and at the same time with practical usage. This is why brassware is always one of the ideal surveniors that one can bring home. It is believed that the skills were taught to the local folk by Chinese settlers from Funan. The lost-wax method is usually employed, though sandcasting is also used. At the Central Market, or Pasar Payang, located by the Terengganu river, brassware is sold amongst many other enticements.


Keris Making

This double edged wavy blade dagger is the synonymous with the Malay culture and way of life. In the ancient time, a man walks without a keris was akin to walking around in naked. In those days, keris was always believed to be endowed with mystical powers and guardian spirit, this makes it serves the function as weapon to defend oneself in a combat and to use for medicinal purposes. There are handful of Malay legendaries about keris. The famous among these will be the keris of Hang Tuah who is the Malay hero during the Sultanate of Melaka. Hang Tuah’s keris, Taming Sari was presented by the King of Majapahit to Sultan of Melaka after Hang Tuah won in a challenge. This keris was believed to have endowed with powerful spirit. Whoever possesses this keris would attain invulnerability. There was a story saying that Hang Tuah killed his childhood friend, Hang Jebat because of being disloyal to the Sultan with this Taming Sari. He was very ashamed to have killed his own childhood friend in the name of loyalty, therefore he then returned the keris to the Sultan. There is always romance and adventure and nobility in a keris. Because of being so precious, keris is always highly valued and treated with special care.

Keris has two kind of shapes: keris lurus (straight keris) and keris luk (meandering keris). Empu, the keris maker will make the dagger accordance with the wish of consumer. Whether straight or luk, this will only be done during which the nickel inserted iron rod is repeatedly being forged and smoldered.

The fluid design of the blade makes the keris stand out as a unique dagger-like weapon. Its ornate carved handle also provides for a strong grip. It is no wonder that the keris is one of the oldest of personal weapons.

Made from the combination of eight to ten different metals, the spiritual qualities of the keris are known to include the spirits of warriors. Some myths even warn that certain lethal daggers should never be simply removed from their sheaths for their blades must taste blood before being inserted again.

Keris making is considered as a dying art in Malaysia, however visit to the keris making centre in Kampung Pasir Panjang and Kampung Ladang Titian in Kuala Terengganu is still worth. Here you can see how a piece of raw iron is to turn into this significance and meaning rich weapon. You can also purchase you own piece of keris collection with relatively cheap price.

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Beaded necklaces

The Rungus, the natives of the Kudat area, have long been known to produce beautiful beaded necklaces; they wear long, broad multi-stranded pinakol crossed over their shoulders over their traditional black costumes interwoven with gold thread. Patterns on the strands tell of ancient fables, and human figures are picked out in bright hues in the beadwork. Ever-enterprising, the Rungus today produce bangles, earrings and even brooches to go with the necklaces.


The parang is still crafted in traditional ways by the Bajau from Kota Belud. The ones made by them these days are usually from scrap iron, which goes though a process of melting, pounding, shaping and finally polishing. The blades are straight and tapered, from a sharp tip widening up towards the hilt. Some may have patterns etched into the metal along the topside. The hilt and sheath are carved from of wood, and occasionally one can come across an antique parang with a wonderfully carved hilt of horn. In days gone by, the parang was used as a weapon as well as a work tool, but these days it is mainly a decorative item for display.  

Tudung Duang

Tudung Duang is the local name for a food cover: in the tropics, like in Sabah, food on the table has to be protected from insects and dust. One is instantly attracted to them because of their bright colours, especially when they are laid out on pandan (screw pine leaf) mats in high piles, like at the Kota Belud Tamu grounds on the weekly Sunday Market (tamu).

Native hat

By the shape of a native hat, and its patterns, one can immediately identify the wearer to which ethnic entity he or she belongs. Most hats here are steeply conical and have nature-derived designs on them. Murut hats woven from the strips of sombituon bamboo are hexagonal in shape with a three-bands patterned weaving. Hats from Penampang and Tuaran have wider, circular bases with geometrical designs. All these hats are crafted from bamboo and rattan strips, and the red and black colours used to be natural dyes – red from the mengkudu root, or ‘dragon’s blood’ which is obtained from the fruit of a climbing rattan, and black from the leaves and stalks of the indigo plant. The Murut from the Nabawan area are now reproducing their hats in scaled-down sizes, showing their skill and craftsmanship in the extremely delicate weaving.


Bajau sailboats, the lipa-lipa, carved from wood, and blowpipes used by Murut on hunting trips are available in many handicraft shops. The tambu-tambu wood is the main wood used in making the lipa-lipa, apart from mata-mata and gangil. A traditional lipa-lipa is elaborately carved. The designs are based on the motifs of plants, namely the kembang tuli or dahan and kellong. The blowpipe, or sumpitan, can be made of bamboo or hardwood. In the latter case the central duct has been drilled through in a long, manual process.


Pottery has a long tradition in Sabah, and ancient Chinese jars, or tajau, were once even used to bury the dead. The Murut especially cherish and value their heirloom jars, in which they still ferment tapai – their traditional rice wine. If you visit some of the antique shops in KK’s major shopping malls you might come across nice Ming Dynasty vases; better still, you admire antique jars that are kept in the houses of the locals (like in the picture left). On the way to Tuaran, there are several potteries manufacturing nice vases and plates, as well as other household items made from clay.

Kain dastar &Rinago

There are over 32 different ethnic entities in Sabah, and all of them have their own, sometimes specialised handicraft. Many more traditional items appeal to visitors to Sabah, such as the richly woven kain dastar, a piece of fabric used as headgear by the men of certain ethnic communities such as the Kadazan and Dusun; and the rinago trays and boxes made of rattan and lingkong, a type of fern that produces long, very tough strands ideal for weaving. The latter is made by the Rungus people.


The Malay Kelantanese are well known for their Silverware making skills. These skills have been around for centuries, influenced by the Hindu and Islamic Civilization famous for well crafted items from gold and copper.


This is a skilled handiwork still flourishing in Terengganu. Traditional techniques are still being used in most processes though machines have been introduced to replace some processes. Copperware products include tepak sireh, candle holders, wedding gift trays, ember holder, pahar and others.


Ceramic art is a craftwork using high quality clay that is kneaded, decorated with a variety of motif, and fire-dried in kilns to produce fine ceramic products.


The indigenous people of Sarawak have since long ago been associated with beadwork for adornment as well as for ceremonial purposes. Here, beads tradition goes back to the very remote past. The variety of beads, the materials from which they are made , their colours and the values attributed, all make up an interesting conversation and discussion. Beads, today, are used in many different ways and one can see government officials using them as gifts and garlands for different functions and events as well.

Pua Kumbu

Pua Kumbu is a traditional patterned multicolored ceremonial cotton cloth used by the Iban, made and used in Sarawak, Malaysia. Pua kumbu are woven by Dayak women and are considered to be sacred objects. They are used for lifecycle rituals and special events including the birth of a child, coming of age celebrations, receipt of an important item to a longhouse, and to screen a corpse that is being laid out in a longhouse prior to burial.

Labu sayong

Labu Sayong is a black-coloured gourd-shaped clay jar typically used to store and cool water. The state of Perak is renowned for this type of pottery.


Found in many rural Malaysian homes, The belanga is often characterised by a round base and wide rim. It is often used to cook curries, as it is believed that its round base allows heat to be distributed more evenly.


This angular-shaped jar is popularly used for storing water in the states of Pahang and Terengganu. It has a concave neck and a convex body.


The art of embroidering golden thread onto a base material, generally velvet, was traditionally used to decorate traditional Malay weddings regalia.


A three-piece brooch set traditionally used to pin the lapels of the baju kebaya together. Kerongsang usually comes in sets of three. The typical three-piece set comprises of a kerongsang ibu (mother piece) which is larger and heavier. The other two are called the kerongsang anak (child pieces) and are worn below the kerongsang ibu.

Cucuk Sanggul

A traditional hairpin used to secure hair in a bun at the back of women’s heads. Typically made of gold or silver, these hairpins are normally worn in graduated sets of three, five or seven by brides and traditional dancers.


A large, intricately ornamented belt buckle worn around the sampin, a skirt-like cloth worn by men, to complement their baju melayu, the traditional attire for men. Traditionally, the pending is a sign of wealth and status for men.


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