Sunday, January 18, 2009

Passing Time.

The Pahang Malay top (Gasing Melayu Pahang). Gasing lipat kajang?

Passing time in Lipat Kajang then was very much different from passing time in Lipat Kajang now. Given that in those days Lipat Kajang folks only used to have radios (say in the 1950s and not before that, and some had mechanically wound spring operated gramophones) and bicycles with no road access, only dirt track and natural foot paths network all over. The only way to a big town was by boat via the Sungei Pahang, and that was a difficult mean because the boats only plied once a day, you needed to catch it bin the early morning and returning the same day in the early afternoon. The other commercial gathering place was at Pekan Sari Kerdau where you have to walk for about 5 km in hot sun to reach it. It was easy for us small children then, we used to piggy back.

Nowadays the kampong has access road, piped water, electricity, telephone, and all the conveniences and all the modern facilities and amenities ……… TV (internet?). And probably drugs (?) supply.

There is a big gap between then and now, thus resulting in different ways the folks of Lipat Kajang pass away their time over time.

What did they used to do then to pass away their time? What I can remember anyway. The men used to play ‘gasing’ (top) during the harvesting season mostly (I don’t know why), 'bersilat' (mostly at night and at weddings), ……… I cannot remember what else they did, probably playing badminton in some earth base home made badminton courts or maybe a bit of football. The ladies ……… well I don’t know what they really did but I saw them weaving ‘mengkuang’ to make into mats and baskets and they did their own stitching of dresses and sarong ………. some used sewing machines, those who could afford them. The children ... I was one of them , we used to pay’ house’, ‘family’ ‘tayang’ or ‘galah panjang’, ‘congkeh’ (by using a short and long stick ….. there was certain rules to that game which we enjoyed and the equipment was self made, but the game was a bit dangerous as it involved catching the short stick when struck by the long stick), and we spent a lot of time swimming in the Pahang River, many times we used to go swimming in mid river on the shallow part of the river where there was shallow sandbank, We knew then where the safer part of the sandbank and we never went there. . And during padi harvesting time we used to make ‘serunai’ out of the padi stem. And we also used to rear or catch birds and on many occasions we used to go catapaulting birds in the bushed. And we collected/gathered wild fruits such ‘kuran’ (‘keranji’ they call it in some places in Malaysia) and ‘buah sengkuang’ (not the same as ‘ubi sengkuang’) . May be at time went stealing mangoes or rambutan or lime from some peoples orchard.

And the youth, they like to go ‘mengemping’ (making rolled young rice) just prior to the serious padi harvesting season. That was the only time when they could meet the young maidens in the kampong in a social gatherings at night.

For productive efforts, the men used to go fishing in the Pahang River or casting net or even casting net in the ‘paya’ and ‘sawah’ swampy areas. Once a year small fishes called ‘mungkus’ go upriver in thousands (don’t know why) and the men (and women) went netting for the fish. The lucky ones may even get a dugout canoe full and needed to spend time a day or two to get rid or the fish inside. I also observed that the ladies all used used to cut ‘mengkuang’ leaves together and to process the leaves for their weaving efforts.

Everything then was almost self made, even the big tops for playing tops and the lanyard used to spin those tops. The people then occupied their time usefully to play and to make a living.

Additionally many go to watch ‘berjin’ (calling the genie to cure sick people) by powerful medicine men. And the women folks looked after children. In those days many families had many children.

During the Emergency things changed quite a bit. The men used to take turn to guard the ‘fort’ at the penghulu’s house every night, and in the day time more or less going around the kampong, when they are not working to ensure that no strangers penetrated the kampong , and sometime those who had shot gun serviced their shot guns themselves. The women folks? They need not guard the penghulu’s house at night but they made sure that the children were safe especially at night, when they used to gather at certain central locations at night, mostly in safer relatives houses to avoid being harmed by the Communists. My grandfather’s house was one of the favourite location for such night gatherings. By about 9 o’clock every one was quiet and asleep, and no unnecessary noise in case the noise attracted the Communists. And the children? We did not really care but we spend a bit of time looking for spent bullets after the nights shootings, which happened quite often I remember.

To keep the kampong folks happy, the Government then used to show propaganda films (and cartoons or even Charlie Chaplin films) to the kampong folks, the films brought to the kampong then by the Information Department. People all over the kampong came, not really care about the threat by the Communists. Its was like a festival night it was.

Once a year, (well almost) the Sultan of Pahang used to make a visit to the kampong. He brought along dancing girls (for ‘joget’) by his house boat and the people were allowed to ‘joget’ (and he dancing) to live drum and viola music. And sometime in the day he organised ‘menuba’ (stunning the river fish by a juice of a certain jungle plant/creeper) and the people collected the stunned fish for free. It was always a festival mood then.

There are people in Lipat Kajang who were different, hobbywise. They liked to shoot squirrel (to protect their fruit trees normally) or going to mini 'lubuk' (not too deep water) to whistle at 'ikan kaloi' (a sort of a darkish large tropical fish) and when the 'kaloi' surfaced, shooting at it with a shotgun. Not really productive but its passing away of time.

And there are individuals who can recite the 'dikir' (a sort of verses formatted in stanzas, maybe over 50 pages) loudly in Arabic (?) and they used to 'shout' at each other (the way I saw it) when they had time on their hand, and each would reply also loudly. There is a certain sing song about the whole 'shouting' and only they understood what it was all about. An ignorant person like me would just not appreciate what the 'shouting' in in that sing song way in some strange language was all about. And these people are some of the most respectable persons in the kampong. And it was the in-thing in the kampong in those days.

Nowadays the process of passing time is easy. Everything is provided for.

Lipat Kajang people (or decendents) are encouraged to participate& contribute (Orang Lipat Kajang, atau keturunan, di jemput memberi sumbangan idea)


  1. some or most of the activities mentioned were more economic in nature, though semi or part time, rather than intended to "pass away the time" or "while away the ticking of the clock" in those past decades - more aimed at supplementing the family income and livelihood.
    of course while carrying out such secondary economic activities through the gainful utilisation of easily available natural (raw) materials and/or local resources, some some social and cultural grandeur are padded in to boost more individual, family or communal interests in such "past time" activities, socially speaking

    traditional/cultural "leisures" which were more seasonal in nature such as the top spinning, berdikir, "mengemping", bersilat (a kind of traditional malay martial art) have not been inherited, and hence have literally died off over time, nowadays these can rarely be seen to attract anybody's attention in the kampong, nobody is good in these arts any more

    when i was a young kid in the kampong, i noticed majority of the folks were addicted to the game of "dam" to while away their time, i didn't know if they actually played just for fun or that they had so much time to while away, not motivated to do anything else more beneficial

    perhaps such a "past time" was one of the ills affecting the kampong folks that have lulled them into laziness and stagnation, never to move with change of day and night, week, month, and year

  2. dam=draught.
    in the kampong they use bottle caps as the draughts pieces. agreed that its a waste of time, but I suppose it just the only pleasure they have in life, time to spend with their friends, to laugh and shout. like darts in the UK.
    agreed that most of the passtime activities were economic gainful activities. but are the youths of today in the kampong involved with such economic gainful activities? now its worse than the older folks playing 'dam', the youth would rather smoke and go about on their motorbikes and drink in the coffeeshops staring at nothingness, not even laughing and shouting with their friends. won't be long before they become zombies.

  3. I found the para at this site:

    Pangkah tebang

    Pangkahan ini bertujuan mengeluarkan gasing lawan jauh dari sasaran dan ia juga merupakan pangkahan jarak jauh. Untuk menghasilkan pangkahan yang kuat, kedudukan pangkah mestilah tegak. Gasing pemangkah akan mengenai labu gasing lawan serentak dengan paksinya mencecah ke bumi. Gasing yang paling sesuai untuk tujuan ini ialah gasing lipat kajang, gasing tanjung dan gasing concord kerana sifatnya yang berat dan pepat.

    Mentioned lipat kajang ..... but I do not know what it means. Does it mean 'gasing' as made and used in Lipat Kajang?

  4. i have also read somehwere, maybe same website, mentioned "gasing lipat kajang" (but which lipat kajang? i'm not sure)
    that fact is there is so much to talk about and to write about our own buat gasing melerek gasing main gasing in our kampong, Kg Lipat Kajang Pahang - it can be reinvented, re visited and re engineered to ake it a tourist attraction and get some economic benefit, kalau malas nak buat tak apa bende yang jadi lah
    i remember Jamaluddin Latun (Abang Jama) di Kg Keling memang pakar buat gasing, macam2 jenis gasing (melayu lipat kajang) tak tahu dia di mana sekarang?
    ayah kon sendiri di zaman muda dia memang suka buat gasing (melerek gasing)- pada musim gasing memang ramai orang main gasing, di laman rumah, dan ada pertandingan lawan main gasing pangkah antara kampong kampong berdekatan, seronok, real past time activity

  5. Jama Latun dah kembali ke rahmatullah. Innalillah .........Al-Faatihah.
    Aki Cu Rani dulu buat gasing 'lipat kajang (?), dia suka meleret gasing dari teras tualang, masa dia duduk di Tanjung Sungei, masa muda nya.