New Straits Times - - Wanderings - By the time we reach Kuala Kangsar, it’s al­ready mid-morn­ing. The van ef­fort­lessly nav­i­gates through a nar­row kam­pung road flanked by nu­mer­ous hand­i­craft shops on each side, en route to Kam­pung Kepala Ben­dang, the main lo­ca­tion for the pro­duc­tion of labu

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.

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