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Bemban Handicrafts

Bemban Handicrafts

Bemban Handicrafts by Odu Ongkokos  and Juvita Ghani from Kampung Kinosusu, Topokon - Tamparuli.
They are the talented makers of the unique bayung.

The Only Weavers

Odu (which means ‘grandmother’) Ongkokos and Juvita are the only two residents from their village who still hand-weave the bayung – a skill passed down from one generation to the next. Unlike most woven baskets, the bayung is flexible yet sturdy. It can be flattened, making it easy to store and is lightweight. Apart from baskets, the hand-weaving duo also creates a variety of trays using the same
techniques.

What's Bayung?

Bayung is a traditional multipurpose basket, made from the bemban (Donax canniformis) - a type of wild grass that grows in swampy areas or paddy fields.
Juvita hand-weaves the bayung – a skill passed down from one generation to the next. And unlike most woven baskets, the bayung is flexible yet sturdy. It can be flattened, making it easy to store and is lightweight. Apart from baskets, the hand-weaving duo also creates a variety of trays using the same techniques.

Serdang Leaves

Serdang Leaves

Sadi Basal a well-known name in the Bajau handicraft industry specializes in
Serdang handicraft. He is the only man in their village who is still active in making
handicrafts from Serdang leaves. In the olden days, the woven handicraft were only
used as a food cover called "Tenduang" in the Bajau Dialect. Nowadays, its use is
extended to many more commercial products such as egg containers, fruit baskets, handbags, and wastebaskets.

Tukang Ulung Kraf

Sadi has won the "Tukang Ulung Kraf" award during the 2015 National Craft Day
celebration. His involvement in the world of Serdang weaving stems from seeing his
late mother weaving Serdang products every day. However, he only started the craft
at the age of 14.

Kraftangan Malaysia 1987

His products became more varied and attractive after he registered his small
operations at Kraftangan Malaysia in 1987. Kraftangan Malaysia helped him a lot by
giving advice on design, marketing strategies, and by providing other assistance such
as workshops.

Purchase Serdang Box

The Lepa-lepa

The Lepa-lepa

Tuan Haji Alpakah Hamah, a Bajau Semporna has been involved in the industry of
making Lepa-Lepa ships for more than 40 years. He expertise in carving smaller
model handicrafts of Lepa-Lepa for tourists to take home as souvenirs.

Skilled Lepa Lepa

His skills in making Lepa-Lepa handicrafts have passed down from his father who
was a skilled Lepa-Lepa maker in the '60s and '70s in Semporna. Now Haji Alpakah
revealed the knowledge to his children, and a few carvers from his village have
learned from him. To complete one Lepa-Lepa ship will take about two days to carve one and a half feet
size model. He also can make a range of sizes up to five feet long. The Tambu-Tambu
wood is the main wood used in making Lepa-Lepa. This wood suitable because it is
light, withstands dampness, and can be easily obtained.

Transportation and Communication

In the old days, Lepa-Lepa is an important transportation and communication among
the Bajau Kubang and Bajau Palao'o. Nowadays, many of them live in Kumpit boats, which they construct themselves for regular lumber or stilt homes on the water as a
result.

The Parang Bajau

The Parang Bajau

The late Tuan Haji Ebin bin Adim originated from Kampung Siasai Kumpang has
been working with metalwork since the age of 18 and has been making parang
(machetes) for more than 50 years.

Parang Craftsmen

He is one of the craftsmen of Parang Bajau who inherited the knowledge from his
father and now revealed to his children and grandchildren. He was more comfortable
doing his metalwork at the workshop just near to his kampung.

Compulsory Dowry

Keris, Gayang, Sword, and Parang are synonyms with the Bajau culture, with such
weapons often included as part of the compulsory dowry for marriage. He believe it is
important for the younger generation to continue with the craft that is part of their
heritage. The late Tuan Haji Ebin was awarded the title "Tokoh Ulung-Pandai Besi" by
Kraftangan Malaysia in 2012.

Purchase Parang Bajau

Sambitan Weave Master

Sambitan Weave Master

Pandian Hanki Sulaiman @ Hajah Mariam or Makcik Pandian hails from a village
called Kg. Rampayan Laut in Kota Belud, Sabah. Born on April 17, 1950, she began
to learn weaving from her mother and grandmother at an early age. 

11 Types Hand-woven Cloths

At that time, the
girls were taught a wide range of skills such as sewing, hand-woven, weaving, and
everything related to household chores. With 40 years over of experience in
handwoven cloths, she is famously known for her exquisite products.
Hajah Pandian can weave eleven types of hand-woven cloths: Kain Dastar, Munsala
Siambitan, Tubawas Siambitan, Kain Mugah, Kain Balbur, Kain Ampit, Kain Kosta,
Mandarispak, Marabur, and Jali Jali. Within the fabrics of these clothes, she can
weave 60 patterns of Bunga Kapas, Jali Jali, Daun Kalinguan, and Horse patterns.
Apart from hand weaving, Puan Pandian also good at weaving a decorated bead mat
(Tipo Selisir) embroidery and a traditional pattern called Langkit.

Sambitan Woven Master

To ensure the skills continuously grow, Hajah Pandian provides weaving training and
guidance to some of the school leavers who lived near her home. Her house was used
as a workshop to train passionate young weavers. Her noble efforts have gained the
attention of the government. She received assistance from the Ministry of Rural
Development to build a more comfortable workshop that could accommodate more
trainees.
Puan Hajah Pandian is always invited to hold demonstrations and exhibitions in Sabah
and Kuala Lumpur. In 2006, she participated in the Heritage Craft Apprenticeship
Scheme, a program organized by Kraftangan Malaysia that aimed at assisting future
leaders in the field of heritage craft including Sambitan weave. Kraftangan Malaysia
has appointed Puan Hajah Pandian Sulaiman as SAMBITAN WOVEN MASTER
CRAFTSMEN in 2006 in honor of her significant contributions in Sambitan weave.

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