the 17th and 18th centuries, the craft of
making gold ornaments began to develop due to the patronage of the royal
households of Kelantan, Kedah,
Perak and Pahang. During this time,
the most common item made for the Malay aristocracy was the pending or belt buckle, which was embellished with precious stones.
Another item among the
royal regalia of old was the tobacco box as the habit of chewing tobacco
was popular at that time. Gold was also used for various parts of
the keris, a short Malay
dagger. The unique kerosong
consisted of three brooches with which women pinned their blouses
worn with the sarong. Among the other personal ornamentation items
gold and silver hairpin called cucuk sanggul and was much sought after by wealthy Malay women as it was
used to secure their hair in a bun. Nyonya, women from Malay Chinese mixed
marriages, Indian and Portuguese women
also adopted this practice.
and granulation were the two main methods of working in gold by
Malay craftsmen, and they still remain popular today. Repousse
involves raising designs upon a thin sheet of gold by hammering
from the back while granulation is a technique where grains of
gold are placed on a gold sheet and soldered together, thus
creating an ornamental design. Another method of Malay
goldsmithing is tinting the gold red or orange by immersing the
object in chemicals.
Malay gold jewellery is mostly in the form of anklets, bracelets,
rings, necklaces, waist buckles, pendants, earrings, and breast
also has a long history in the Malay peninsula, though not
indigenous. During the zenith of Buddhist-Hindu kingdoms like
SriVijaya and Majapahit in the region, silver objects were brought
into the Malay Peninsula by foreign traders. Thereafter Malay gold
artisans began to work in silver from silver
ingots and bars. Malay silverware is
known for its intricate and delicate designs. The decoration or
design is mostly produced by repousse, filigree work and
neillowork. Items unique to silver are pillow ends, belt buckles,
mat corners, stoppers for water vessels, keris sheaths and tobacco
boxes. Pillow ends and tobacco boxes are usually decorated with
cloud patterns or vegetal motifs. The states of
Terengganu produce the best silverware in the country but the
craft of traditional silversmithing is a dying one.
art of casting brassware in Malaysia was first practiced in
Kelantan and Terengganu about the turn of the 17th
century. Two factors accounted for this region being the
birthplace of brass working. Firstly, the craft of making
brassware had flourished in Thailand since 3,000 BC. The regions
close proximity to Thailand provided opportunities for craftsmen
to learn the art. Secondly, substantial amounts of copper and zinc
discovered in the area allowed a ready supply of raw materials.
The brass industry grew because of demand from ordinary villagers,
who could not afford items of gold and silver. From this region,
brassware began to spread to other parts of Peninsula Malaya.
the early days, copper objects ranged from household, decorative
and ceremonial items to canons cast from brass. However, the most
celebrated brass tem in Malay society is the tepuk sireh, a
tray which is used to hold the ingredients of the betel quid.
Certain musical instruments such as gongs used in the gamelan
orchestra are also made of brass.
popular items include flower vases, candleholders, incense
burners, perfume sprinklers, kettles, serving trays, cooking pots
and heavy-duty buckets.
brassware are divided into two types: yellow brass for functional
items and white brass for decorative items.
Using the lost wax method of casting brassware, the process
begins by making a sculpture of the item to be cast.
The sculpture, made from clay or carved out of wood, is
alternatively dipped in hot wax and cold water until the desired
thickness of the wax is acquired.
The wax shell is touched up and coated with slurry.
The slurry-covered sculpture, which has a tiny outlet, is
then heated in a furnace to melt the wax, which drains out through
the outlet. Molten
brass is then poured into the slurry mold.
After the brass has cooled and solidified, the slurry mold
is broken off. Items that have been cast separately are then
completed item is then polished.
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