Malaysian Crafts

Ah... me and handicrafts just cannot be separated. I few weeks ago I saw banners flying about around the streets of the city centre and I told myself that I'd definitely go this year. Its an annual thing and I always wanted to go but end up missing it for some reason. Thought it is the national craft "day", the exhibitions & sales run for 2 weeks. 

For those out of KL, here's a map of where the Komplex Kraf Kuala Lumpur is:

It is located next to the Royal Chulan Hotel & restoran Seri Melayu.

Specially for this event, the organisers have provided visitors with free parking! wheee heee... hahaha... parking in KL is very outrageously expensive so free parking is always welcomed. =)

I went there straight after work on Monday and was there actually to meet up with a guy I had a previous dealing with to check up on the progress of my dealing. Since I was there, I decided to take the opportunity to take a look around what was there. The roads were jammed at that time anyways so i thought i'd look around while the traffic eases. 

They had actual craftsmen there so you can see them in action. This guy is a silversmith. He's resizing a ring for that man standing next to him. Beautiful to see him at work! 

So, what was there? Well, anything and everything arts and craft related and "Made in Malaysia" was there! You name it. From traditional arts like jewelry, Keris, Parang, Carpal etc, to pottery and ceramics, to woodcraft, furniture etc to fabrics, Batik, Songket, Songkok and ready made dresses, and lastly food, cakes etc... There's something for everyone! ;) I walked around, checked out some booths closer, talked to some of the exhibitors and it was an interesting experience. Sometimes I felt like I was a journalist, asking all these questions.... before I knew it I had spent almost 3 hours there! :s 

A silver shop selling silver jewelry, rings and bracelets. You can customise your ring here or better still custom design a ring of your own! In the background there's a woman's boutique.

The woodcraft section is especially nice!! Woodcraft has always been the type of art favoured by the peoples of the Malay archipelago. This could have something to do with the abundance of wood, especially hard wood in this region. I myself have been into woodcraft ever since I was in school. I have not done any intricate and big designs like this but once I have the right tools, I'd definitely start working on bigger work pieces! There bedroom sets, tables, chairs, Wakafs, wooden musical instruments, art pieces and much more.

The booths, though all local have the state that there are from stated on their booth. A quick observation is that certain states have more craftsmen in a particular area. For example, almost all the silversmiths were from Kelantan. The songket makers were all from the east coast, mostly terengganu and a few from Kelantan. The "manufactured" crafts, the pewter jewellery,  plaster decoration manufacturers were from the Klang valley. Wood carvers were mostly from Terengganu and some from Sarawak. All this is pretty interesting when one looks for certain types of art. Look for them at the states where the most manufacturers are from. The possibility of finding a really good craftmen is higher  in these states.

Anyways, I did buy a few things there. Mostly things that I've always wanted to buy buy couldn't afford it when I was younger or when there's no discount. Yes, everything at the exhibition is sold at a discounted price! =)

This my friends is a Pending (above). It is worn with a metal belt, the tali pinggang (below). used in the olden days as sort of protection against keris stabs to the abdomen and also as status symbols for aristocrats and kings. It is believed to have been introduced by the Siamese and popularised to the malay world by the Pattani malays. Usually pendings are made out of copper being silver or gold plated, with or without stones. Those normally cost upwards of RM1,000! For something I probably won't wear that often I think that's too steep a price, despite me wanting to complete my busana melayu.... The one I bought was relatively inexpensive, being made of pewter and Rhodium plated. The tali pinggang i bought was an antique one which is in relatively good condition and have very detailed engravings on it. Antiques are always abit more expensive than new ones as the new ones are not done in the same way as the old ones and the material of the old ones are of better quality. I'm overall happy with my purchases...=)

My final purchase is these babies.... Made in Muar... hehehe... doesn't that sound way cooler than Made in china!? hehehe Anyways, the traditional carpal worn by Malays zaman dulu dulu had a really hard insole. very not good for either comfort or health. My uncle used to tell me how my late grandfather used to make him wear carpal for raya and how he wood make sure my uncle's songkok was slightly tilted... hahaha... very the Umno my late grandfather.... hehehe... Anyways, these examples have a leather  insole with rubber outer sole. This makes them much more comfy than the traditional type whilst styled modernly with a hint of traditionalism. My kinda style and that sold it for me. Pretty disappointed that the seller didn't give me that extra RM10 discount I was haggling for but all in all still a good buy. =)

So, there you have it. My shopping endeavours at the National Craft Day.... I highly recommend you guys pay the place a visit. Parking is free if you get the parking coupon stamped. For craft lovers and those wanting to support our local industry, this is a must visit!