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Malaysia ~ Handicrafts


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Traditional handicraft and souvenir items in Malaysia extend beyond the ordinary key-chain and stationary to include items such as hand woven mengkuang fans, tribal carrier bags, stylish pottery, shadow puppets, pewter, silverware, brassware, and fabrics of unique designs fashioned into handbags, slip-ons, sarongs, and beachwear as well as a host of other decor pieces and functional household items.

 

To locate items that are truly 'Made in Malaysia' simply look for specific objects that you may have heard of; the batik sarong, the tribal bamboo blowpipe, the labu sayong gourd-shaped vessel, the fabled kris, the majestic Terengganu hand carved wooden panel, etc. Apart from being of high quality, they are also value for money bargains. The prices of handicrafts are not standard but vary from one place to another. 

 

 

Batik

Originally an Indonesian craft, batik has made itself at home in Malaysia.  You will find it in Penang, but Kelantan is its true home. Malaysian Batik is the best in the world and is created by four methods: block- printing, drawn free style, silk-screened, or tie-dyed. Batik fabrics are usually cotton and silk. Batik cloth is produced by drawing out a design with wax and dying the material. The wax is then melted away by boiling the cloth, and a second wax design is drawn in.  After this repeated process, an intricate and beautifully coloured design is produced. Batik can be found as cloths, cushion covers, table-cloths, placemats or simply as works of art. Batik sarongs are usually a novelty with tourists.

 

 

Weaving  

A specialty of Kelantan and Terengganu, Kain Sonket is a hand-woven fabric with gold and silver threads through the material. Tekat is a form of gold embroidery that is traditionally used to decorate traditional Malay weddings regalia. Nowadays, it is used as tissue-box covers, handbags, wall decorations and tablecloths. Mengkuang is a far more prosaic form of weaving using pandunus leaves and strips of bamboo to make baskets, bags and mats. 

The Mah Meri and Jah Hut, two tribes of aborigines in Peninsula Malaysia are noted for their carvings of mythical creatures related to their folklore. The carvings are usually from the wood of mangrove trees and are maroon in colour. To get the best prices buy direct from these carvers, who mostly live in the coastal district of Selangor, especially on Pulau Carey (Carey Island).

 

 

Pewter

An alloy of tin, antimony and copper, pewter is easily malleable and does not lose its shiny lustre over time. Made in a variety of tableware and gift items, both in contemporary and traditional patterns featuring functional and style.


 

Arts and Crafts of East Malaysia 


Perhaps the most famous east Malaysian art is pua kumbu, a colourful weaving technique used to produce both everyday and ceremonial items decorated with a wide range of patterns.  Woodcarving is another prized art, and the most skilled carvers of all are thought to be the Kenya and Kayan peoples, who produce enormous finely detailed burial columns kelirieng carved from tree trunks. Less formidable, but equally beautiful are small wooden hunting charms and ornate knife hilts known as 'parang ilang


 

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Pua Kumbu

This is a native woven cloth by the Iban of Sarawak. Weavers use dyes made from roots, bark leaves and other vegetation. .They are now a novelty specially made for fashion and furnishings.

Keris

The Kris, with its elaborately carved handle and wavy blade is a unique icon in Malay cultural history. It evolved from a royal weapon of choice to a status symbol in Malay history.

Songket

Hand-woven traditional Malay fabric with gold and silver threads.

Pottery

Often unglazed, Malay pottery can be divided into four types - The Labu Sayong of Perak, the Belanga, the Buyung and the Terenang.
 

Mengkuang

Mengkuang (screwpine leaves) or pandanus weaving is one of the traditional arts still very much alive and its products are still in demand.
 

Wau

This uniquely designed Malayan kite  has flown since times past. There are various types of wau such as Wau Kuching (Cat Kite), Wau Merak (Peacock Kite), and Wau Bulan (Moon Kite). Each wau is uniquely handcrafted.

Wayang Kulit

These puppets used in cultural entertainment in the manner of shadow play are made of cow leather (kulit) that has been stretched and dried. The patterns are then carved out.

Gold, Silver & Brass

Gold, Silver and Brass ceremonial, decorative, ornamental and functional items of intricate designs made in the traditional manner of Malay craftsmen.

Wood Carving

Relief wood carvings frequently adorn the doors, walls and windows of traditional Malay houses. Popular motifs for relief carvings are various Malaysian flowers and plants.

 

 


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