Tuesday, March 24, 2009

We used to have, but no more.

The women in Lipat Kajang used to weave mats of all sorts out of ‘mengkuang’ leaves (Malaysian screwpine leaves). That was years ago, but not anymore. I remember when my aunties used to stay late at night hand weaving these processed ‘mengkuang’ leaves into mats, weaving complicated patterns just by kerosene oil lamps lights. And they all made wonderful and colourful ‘mengkuang’ mats.

What are ‘mengkuang’ mats. They are mats made from ‘mengkuang’ leaves. These leave are very thorny and the women folks used to gather these leaves and cut out the thorny edges. Then (if I remember correctly) they soaked the leave in water. After a couple of days the leaves are taken out to dry. When dried they are combed using sharp bladed combs of the required strands sizes. Then these combed long strands of ‘mengkuang’ leaves are soaked, in permanent dye (in those days the red colour of soaked ‘sepang’ tree barks were favourite, but nowadays many other colours from other sources may be available), before they are dried in the sum. When dried they are sorted out by the desired colours to make colourful patterned weaved mat of various sizes. They make spent a week or so, at night mostly, to get make weave a fair sized floor mats. But some may also spend their days making these mats, in between house chores and cooking for their children and husbands. In those days the mats were just for personal use and rarely sold, unlike today.

Nowadays they do not make these weaves ‘mengkuang’ mats anymore (at least in Lipat Kajang as far as I know, and my aunties have long gone). Why? Because they say ‘mengkuang’ plants are difficult to find, or maybe not available anymore in the locality. In those days there were fields of ‘mengkuang’ plants in the village. Somehow the villagers have cut down these ‘mengkuang’ plants, for one reason or another. Anyway most of our women folks are now educated (not in ‘mengkuang weaving) up to certain academic level and their skills at making these ‘mengkuang’ mats have not been learned form their mothers. The older women are too old to make these ‘mengkuang’ mats anymore.

Where can one gets the ‘mengkuang’ mats if one wants one? Import from Indonesia, that is where.

The mats are soft to sit one, and have very good ventilation so its pretty cool to lie on.

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

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