Malaysia My Destination : Info about Tourist Attraction and Destination Guide
Kuala Lumpur : Malaysia Capital - Tourist Attraction and Destination Guide
Putrajaya : Federal Territory - Malaysia
Selangor : Central Region Of Peninsular Malaysia - Tourist Attraction and Destination Guide
Terengganu : East Coast Region Of Peninsular Malaysia - Tourist Attraction and Destination Guide
  Getting There
  Getting Around
  Terengganu Map 1
  Terengganu Map 2
  Kuala Terengganu Map
  Visit Terengganu
  Discover Terengganu
  The Ultimate Destination
  Unique Homestays
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  Traditional Games & Pastimes
  Traditional Music & Dance
  Terengganu History
  The 19th Century
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  The Age Of Commerce
  The Inscribed Stone
  Traditional Boat Building
  Malay Exotic Wooden
  Royal Treasures
  The Chinese Village
  Malay Handicrafts
  Batik, Songket & Silk
  Brassware & Wood Carving
  Mengkuang & Pandanus Weaving
  Keris (Blade) Making
  Rattan & Bamboo Product
  Traditional Wau / Kite Making
  Must Visit Places
  Islands Of Terengganu
  Pulau Perhentian Island
  Pulau Lang Tengah Island
  Pulau Redang Island
  Pulau Bidong Island
  Pulau Kapas & Gemia Island
  Pulau Tenggol Island
  Beach Holidays
  Recreational Forest
  General Info
  Herbs Park & Kelah Sanctuary
  Adventure Nature
  Tanjong Mentong (Taman Negara)
  Houseboat Holidays
  Getting There
  Around The City
  Islamic Civilization Park
  Batu Burok Beach
  The Museum
  Sungai Terengganu River Cruise
  Chemerong Waterfall
  Rantau Abang (Turtle Nesting)
  Ajil Pheasant Park
  Berang River Safari
  Sekayu Waterfall (Must Visit)
  Lata Belatan Recreational Forest
  Lata Berangin & La Hot Springs
  Lata Tembakah Waterfall
Kelantan : East Coast Region Of Peninsular Malaysia - Tourist Attraction and Destination Guide
Pahang : East Coast Region Of Peninsular Malaysia - Tourist Attraction and Destination Guide
Johor / Johore : Southern Region Of Peninsular Malaysia - Tourist Attraction and Destination Guide
Malacca / Melaka : Southern Region Of Peninsular Malaysia - Tourist Attraction and Destination Guide
Negeri Sembilan / The Nine State : Southern Region Of Peninsular Malaysia - Tourist Attraction and Destination Guide
Kedah (Langkawi) : Northern Region Of Peninsular Malaysia - Tourist Attraction and Destination Guide
Penang / Pulau Pinang : Northern Region Of Peninsular Malaysia - Tourist Attraction and Destination Guide
Perak : Northern Region Of Peninsular Malaysia - Tourist Attraction and Destination Guide
Perlis : Northern Region Of Peninsular Malaysia - Tourist Attraction and Destination Guide
Sabah : East Malaysia / Malaysian Borneo - Tourist Attraction and Destination Guide
Labuan (Federal Territory) : East Malaysia / Malaysian Borneo - Tourist Attraction and Destination Guide
Sarawak : East Malaysia / Malaysian Borneo - Tourist Attraction and Destination Guide

HISTORY & HERITAGE - Malay Exotic Wooden


Wood Carving is an integral part of Malay Culture. The art is featured in ordinary dwellings and Palaces. 'The earliest reference to woodcarving is in the Malay Annal (Sejarah Melayu)  which describes features of' the palace of Sultan Mansur Shah of Melaka (1459-1477). Known as "The Palace of Lust and Desire" (Istana Hawa Nafsu), it is described as a palace lavishly decorated and enriched with woodcarvings. During the J5th century, woodcarving as C an art-form gained prominence. The Perak historical document called the, Misa Melayu written by of the royal family, Raja Chulan, mentions the use of woodcarving to decorate the Palace of Sultan Zulkarnain (1756 - 1780). There are surviving examples of past woodcarvings, though they are all less than 200 years old. These are the Istana Balai Besar (Palace with a Big Hall) of Kelantan, which is approximately 150 years old; Istana Tengku Nik or. Rumah Tele of Terengganu, built during the reign of Sultan Zainal Abidin (1881-1918); Istana Satu, also of Terengganu, which have been relocated to the grounds of the National Museum in Kuala Lumpur; and Istana Raja Besut, which is in the district of Besut, Terengganu.


The last timber-built palace is at Sri Menanti in Negeri Sembilan, where construction began in 1920 and was completed in 1928, It. was the official residence of the Yang Dipertuan Besar Tuanku Muhammad. Woodcarving as a decorative art is also found in mosques, prayer houses (surau), and wakaf (religious gifts), and on products such as wooden trays and household items such as the kukuran (coconut grater), furniture (table, chair, bed), boat, folding screen divider, beetle-nut box, and bird-cage. In the past, woodcarvings, like other forms of art, were the privilege of the Malay ruling class and some rich commoners. Indeed, it was said that the houses of the elite would not be complete if not decorated with intricate woodcarving. Most of the famous master craftsmen are, however, of peasant background.


The development of all traditional arts was made possible by the Patronage of sultans or chieftains. However, craftsmen often did not receive any payment for their services but were given daily food and clothing. They also gained status by working as master craftsmen for a highly respected or powerful individual. For his part, the ruler took pride in his palace or house being beautifully decorated. Such patron- age and privileges disappeared with the coming of the British.


Without royal patronage, woodcarvers and other artists were forced to quit palace work and artistic activities in search of a livelihood.  There has in recent years been a renewed demand for woodcarving, and this is due to the growth of an elite group in Malay society. This group has become more wealthy and sophisticated in their lifestyle. There is increasing awareness among the Malay elite of the need to treasure their rich art heritage.


There are also other patrons like government agencies, universities, and corporations.  The art o woodcarving has survived in Terengganu and Kelantan. One of the most well-known woodcarvers is Haji Wan Su bin Othman, popularly known as Wan Su.

Heritage and History - Exotic Wooden.




Malay woodcarving involves simple tools, some self-made and others bought from stores. These consist of an assortment of chisels, large and small saws, hammers, and files. In recent times, a motorized chainsaw and a drill called bendso are used. The bendso removes the unwanted part of the panel before the actual carving work is done. This has speeded up work.  The most common wood used for carving is cengal, which is one of the hardest wood found in the jungles of Malaysia. Other types of wood used are the medang, sena, merbau, meranti and nyatuh.




The surrounding environment is, an important source of inspiration for a woodcarver's creativity. The design and motif- in woodcarving are largely based on objects found ill the natural and socio-Cultural environment. Popular designs among Malay carvers are of two basic types: cut out (ukiran tebuk) and low relief (ukiran timbul). A cut-out design oil a panel, which serves as a ventilation panel, would admit air and light. Ventilation panel are normally placed above the main door or window of a house or on the upper part of a wall. A folded screen divider also uses the cut-out design. An excellent example of cut-out panels of this design call be seen in the palace of' Raja Besut and the palace of Tengku Nik of Terengganu.  Low relief does not allow air and light to pass through. The common design of this category is the awan larat that is normally represented in the form of spiral leaves and branches. The design is repeated from one end of the panel to the other.


There are five different types of motifs, namely cosmic motif floral motif, faunal motif geometric motif, and calligraphy. Both cosmic and faunal motifs are remnants of the pre-Islamic cultural tradition. Today, faunal motifs are rarely used in Malay woodcarving, as carving of living creatures is forbidden in Islam. However, this prohibition is not fully adhered to, and we can still see many works of art with such motifs. Among the common faunal motifs is "itik pulang petang" ("clucks returning at dawn") which, by depicting ducks walking in a row, emphasizes social discipline.


The most common motifs are floral motifs and in recent times, calligraphy. Flora always present in the immediate surroundings of the Malays, are useful either as food items or as traditional medicine. A carver usually selects of his natural surroundings certain items (like leaves, flowers, plants, or even insects) that lie is most familiar with and that have it special meaning to him.


Wan Mustapha, for instance, is very, fond of carving bunga mas (golden flower) as he has chosen this particular flower to give an identity to his work.   Other common flowers are bunga keledang, bunga senduduk, bunga lada hitam, bunga raya, and bunga ketumbar. Bunga raya (hibiscus) is the Malaysian national flower, while bunga ketumbar is selected because Malays consider this plant to have medicinal value.  As for calligraphy, the resurgence of- Islam has given impetus to its development when selected verses from the Holy Qur'an provide inspiration to the woodcarver.




The motifs in wood carvings are guided by several principles which reflect the cultural values of the Malays. First, a new emerging branch of a plant must be featured as appearing from behind or below the original branch. This represents a Malay cultural value that the elderly must be given precedence. As the Malay saying goes, "orang tua makan garam lebilh dahulu" ("older people tasted salt earlier than younger ones"). Second, when two leaves are portrayed in close contact, the sharp end of one must not touch the other. This is to indicate that in one's life, one must not hate or despise or cause hardship to others.


Living in harmony and having good relations is a virtue, as opposed to conflict and antagonism. This underlines the maxim that all Muslims are brothers. It also conveys the message that "liok tak patah, tajam tak menikam" ("though soft it is not easily, broken, though sharp it does not pierce"). This literally means that we must be flexible and not practise back-stabbing. Third, a design should not be too elaborate. There should not be a mixture of several motifs to form a sophisticated pattern. Such a design is regarded as mabuk (drunk) and mabuk is not permitted in Islam. It is also riot pleasing to the eve.


Fourth, the design should not be stiff. It must express the softness of tile carver. And finally, a small branch should end in a fold. This means that life ill this world is full of mystery and that our life does not end in this world.
HISTORY & HERITAGE - Malay Exotic Wooden