Thursday, September 4, 2008

Labu Sayong - Unique Essence Jar of Sayong

I went to a company function in Perak last week and got blown off (got bluffed?) by a group of artiste makcik (aunties) in a village called Sayong. The place is nearby a river called Perak River facing the town of Kuala kangsar and their specialty in art is called Essence Jar of Sayong (above pic). Worth to say, the art stuff is very unique, that it is not available anywhere in the whole world but here! Also, the jar is made entirely of earth and it cools down anything put into it to a few degrees below ambient temperature. I did a test using my thermometer and it works! I was really excited about this last week and decided to go around the place yesterday to find out more of this stuff. Unfortunately, the jar-makers were not at work yesterday thanks to the pissing tropical rain and I can't document anything but the story of it.

Said before that they actually started making this earthenware around a few hundred years ago (!) after they discovered that the composition of clay around the area was quite different and very suitable for earthenware. Because this country is very hot, and refrigerator was ye to be available then, their chilling-earth-made-jar went out throughout the country as a cooler used to store water and other liquids. The jar-making was then evolved in shape and designs to suit the taste of the users who were rulers and kings of their time. The jar sold to the public were usually less intricate and less decorated.

There are only two colors available for the jar - brown and black. Brown is the original colour of the clay and black was achieved by rubbing some tree epoxy to the jar body while it was still hot from baking and believed to have better chilling effect than the plain (brown) jar. Hence - the royalties and the rich prefers black jar of essence. For decoration, motives were engraved to the clay prior to baking them. Some of the original motives were labu bocong, labu tela, labu pucung dan labu panai. Hiasan yang kebanyakannya digunakan ialah pecah empat, bunga api, bunga lawang, bunga cakar ayam, bunga tanjung, bunga cengkih and pucuk rebung. This is an interesting but intricate process and so time consuming that it greatly increase the value of the jar. See pictures for the feel of it. The baking process was done to harden the jar and it was baked by burying the jar inside a burning stack of rice hay.

Almost all of the Labu Sayong were made by professional makers even to these days. Fortunate for an artfan like me, the price was very cheap - around USD30 for plain and USD 60 for decorated black jar. Anyone interested, please contact me via comments and I will be happy to make arrangements without any surcharges :)

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Original Arts

First time I was in a fleamartket when I was a little kid, I can see a lot of people that I knew personally. Uncle Amat sold coconut shell ashtrays and Utensils, Aunty Jiwa had her bamboo crafts and even my dad used to bring fish traps made from rattan to sell out.
Those days, we can take everything as original art and craft. These art and crafts were made from the knowledge passed by their ancestors to them and I saw these peoples made them under the longhouses on their free times. They made those crafts solely for the purpose of usage. Nevertheless, my people believe, the more time spent on a functional craft, the more durable it will be. And the more yield it will provide. Thus, most of the time making the crafts were usually spent on making them strong and beautiful. Here's the tip - Original arts and craft are durable, made of original materials and very functional. You buy a blowpipe, it will last for generations and it shoots well as it is beautiful. People like these are proud of their arts. And it is my mission to support them. I will post products from here in piece by piece even by categories. Leave me a comment if you like something~

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Collector's Bargain - Malaysia Style

Hi everyone! Thanks for stopping by at asian-fleamarket. This is a blog for asian craft lovers, collectors and myriads of other aliens whose job is to search the galaxy for bargains at fleamarkets available. Im Angie, a native malaysian, but for bargains sake - call me Art.

Fleamarket is a resource of a lot of stuff. If you get bored or lonely, walk in any fleamarkets in asia and you'll find gazillions of items and wonderful stuff like canes, artwork, handycraft, hand-made hats and even ancient weapons of the latest design (not authentic, mind you!). Any of these things might bore you to death but might also bring interest in you that you want to have it. How long since you got hold of an Ibanese Ilang from head-hunter's days in Borneo plus it has already taken heads and PLUS the heads it took years ago is also offered for sale? :D

Nowadays, fleamarkets are also a place for a lot of pirated items and low quality stuffs like watches, electronics, shirts, and so-on. But, worry not, because I am not interested in dissapointing my readers by listing any dumb items like that.

I prefer original items. At least, it should be of original motive. The latter is mostly because original hand-crafted blowpipe, rattan baby carrier, water flask made by half-nude aborigines are not always readily available. But there are copies that were as good as originally made and also maintained the original craftmanship by locals. That is most likely to be available for anyone to browse. But then - I also have friends from the jungle where i can get almost anything arty or of original made.

I will list one item from the fleamarket and state their values. You might find this useful as I am sure you never want to be conned or have your throat cut during bargaining with the sellers. I will also publish interesting facts and items and pictures where you can seek your soul and find something from asia to put in your home for a few dimes (Im not a seller - but if you like something I showed, you can ask me to buy on your behalf and ship it yo you). My consultation advice as a native and local is for free :p