These articles of interesting medicinal, religious and cultural values could be viewed, (and touched!) at the small but informative (and free!) Kota Lukut Museum. This museum is dedicated to house findings from excavation done at the nearby Kota Lukut (Fort of Lukut), which was once an independent, trading post (largely tin mined at the Lukut River) owned by Raja Bot. At its heyday, Kota Lukut had the best administration in the Archipelago, complete with a troop of cavalry policemen, that it earned praises from the then Governor of Malacca, William Farquhar, as a city that surpassed even Malacca in term of governance, wealth and prosperity.
A Malay house is a wonderful place full of carvings. The inspiration for the carving comes from their green, leafy tropical surroundings so one would see a lot of flowers, leaves and plants feature as floral and vegetal motifs on stairs (as the traditional house is normally one built on stilts), wood panels, pillars and wooden window grills.
Plants are also important, not only as decorative elements, in Malay traditional medicine. Ulam, a collective term for a host of vegetations, normally eaten raw or boiled is a common feature in Malay meals. Spices such as cloves, cinnamon, star aniseed, candlenut etc, rich sources of antioxidants, are obligatory ingredients in cookings like gulai and rendang. There are also plants such as pandanus and lemongrass which are used as natural colourings, for fragrance and additional flavour, as well as for tehi remedial properties. Various other herbs, seeds and flowers of all sorts make up the rest of traditional Malay medicine.
Entering a traditional Malay house, a visitor will first notice the ‘mumbung pintu’, or door lintel, adorning the main entranceway. This is normally decorated with most ornae carvings usually of floral designs or Quranic verses or words of wisdom that reflect the peaceful, wise and religious character of the host. The mumbung could also be found in religious buildings like mosques and other secular buildings such as a balai (equivalent to modern-day community hall).
The mumbung pintu here is originally from a house in Negeri Sembilan, aging more than 100 years old. It contains the Basmalah and a prayer for protection.
This is a carved panel from a house also about 100 years old in Negeri Sembilan, West Coast of Malaysia. This kind of panel either function as a mashrabiyya, or added for ventilatory purposes. This example here contains Arabic verse, possibly a Quranic one, that includes the name of God, Allah.
A decorative element such as this huge carving of a flower and the name of God and His Messenger s.a.w. is a rare example of a wall decoration, suggesting the prosperity and religious fervour of its owner.
Going further into the house, vegetal elements are found everywhere, such as on this huge and beautiful , knee-level cloth-hanger, another rare example of a rare type of Malay furniture and….
… this coconut grater (kukur kelapa) which a tool to grate the flesh of a coconut from its shell. This example here has been carved and painted mejstically. The children, who are normally assigned such simple job, would be more than delighted to do the chore, sitting on the grater as if the tool is a horse, tiger or a lion.
In the kitchen, if the host is a practitioner of traditional Malay healing technique, lucky visitor might be able to see complex methods of medical preparation in action. Since the Malay world is situated righ in the middle of the busy trade route between Arabia, India and China, the Malay medicine, like Malay food, is a rich mix of Malay and other cultures’ medical traditions. There are some materials which as specifically Malay like kapur barus (or camphur) which has reached and enriched other cultures hence we see it being used among others by the Prophet s.a.w. to bath the janazah (corpse). Likewise, elements from other traditions have also enriched Malay’s tradition of healing.
What is seen in the pictures that follow is a complex distillation tool used by a Malay healer who lived on the East Coast of Malaysia in the early 19th century.
Notice that the whole apparatus is made up of a combination of wooden and metal material.
This apparatus was certainly used to prepare medicine such as air jemuju (jemuju water). The distilled medicine is collected in the small bucket, but can also be stored in large large collecting vessel inscribed with healing diagrams and therapeutic verses that uses Arabic numbers and verses for specific or enhanced effect.
Note the intricate carving along the side of the vessel. In this kind of repetitive form, the carving could also be called ‘awan larat’, in reference to the beautiful, continuous forms of the clouds on the sky.
The jemuju water’s main ingredients is the jemuju (or caraway / shah jeera) seeds. It is mixed and boiled with with some local herbs, pandanus, and rose petals (mainly for fragrance) to treat cough, stomach discomfort and to increase sexual prowess. Sore throat could be treated by adding ginger and tamarind. This type of treatment was once very popular on the Eastern seaboard of Malaysia (Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang) and received royal endorsement.
Another popular remedial medicine in the East Coast is air serum (or serum water), perhaps known by pother name in the West Coast. Its major use is for the post-delivery (post-partum) period, and for weak elderly. The mother or the weak elderly will be given a bath of this water, containing pandanus, lemon grass and selected herbs, which is believed to help refresh and restore health, and energy. The process of preparation is very long. The steam would also be collected and allowed to condensate and used as drink to cure internally.
Other tools could include this 50 years old steel pot with a long handle, and…
mortas and pestle, and ….
… this container to hold water, milk and herbal preparation.
These articles of interesting medicinal, religious and cultural values could be viewed, (and touched!) at the small but informative (and free!) Kota Lukut Museum. This museum is dedicated to house findings from excavation done at the nearby Kota Lukut (Fort of Lukut), which was once an independent, trading post (largely tin mined at the Lukut River) owned by Raja Bot. At its heyday, Kota Lukut had the best administration in the Archipelago, complete with a troop of cavalry policemen, that it earned praises from the then Governor of Malacca, William Farquhar, as a city that surpassed even Malacca in term of governance, wealth and prosperity. Unfortunately, only an earthen remain in the resemblance of Old Sarum is left for us to see now – the fort was totally razed down in a civil war during the time of Raja Jumaat, Raja Bot’s son. A small group of Malay cultural items are on permanent display in a room on the second floor. The museum hosts small temporary exhibitions from time to time.
100% taken from http://www.anakalam.blogsome.com with prior permission.
GM: It’s funny, Malays in general would adore anything foreign in their cooking utencils and house decors and usually have the negative perception that anything Malay is backward thinking or ‘macam orang kampung’ as we always like to say… Though I can afford the branded items like Noritake or Royal Daltons, my collectibles are more or less what I could find from atok’s storage underneath the stilt house. I used them especially for breakfast…it is a nice feeling to drink from your old great great granparents’ tea cup with its mismatched saucer. It brought back the old memory and nostalgia and imagining that for the generations to come your great great grandchildren would also drink from the same spot……and be proud of it!
Macam orang kampung? Nay!!! I called it ‘Vintage Indie’