BEARDED man donning a
(headgear) smiles invitingly as I excitedly
my way to the van parked at the compound of the Craft Complex in Jalan Conlay, Kuala Lumpur. Looking every bit the dashing Malay warrior, he’s actually our official driver for a day-trip to the royal town of Kuala Kangsar, Perak, organised by the Malaysian Handicraft Development Corporation for the media.
Over the past century, the rapid growth of Ipoh, Perak’s capital, may have left Kuala Kangsar lagging behind in many aspects but one thing’s certain, this picturesque town remains the bastion for traditional artisanal products.
It’s here that one can find some of the country’s time-honoured handicrafts including labu sayong (water pitcher in the shape of a gourd made from earthenware clay), keris (Malay dagger) and beautifully intricate embroidery.
According to folklore, the first labu sayong was brought into the district of Sayong by Tuk Kaluk, a trader from Minangkabau, Indonesia during the reign of Sultan Iskandar Syah.
The Sultan bestowed land around Kampung Kepala Bendang to Tuk Kaluk in recognition of his expertise in making swords, machetes, keris and pottery that helped the locals at the time.
The tradition of craft-making at this place continues to this day with a growth in the number of artisans.
Today’s adventure promises to be interesting. I’m participating in the Satu Daerah Satu Industri Jelajah Kraf (One District One Industry Craft Trail) programme to explore the labu sayong craft heritage and to meet with the artisans involved in making this
traditional water pitcher.