Marie Claire Malaysia: Weaving Dreams

 

Tucked within the hustle and bustle of Sepang lies a small Orang Asli village where the women battle nature and man alike to preserve their way of life and an age-old tradition: weaving.

About 15 minutes from the aggressive modernity of the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, just behind rows of large factories belching thick smoke, the smooth tar roads abruptly give way to dirt tracks pocked and pitted by the constant back and forth of loaded trucks. Here, amidst acres of oil palms, lies the small settlement of Kampung Paya Rumput.

It didn’t used to be this way. “When we first purchased this land almost 30 years ago,” says Yau Nyuk, “It was all wild, all forest. We cleared the land ourselves with our knives and machetes to build our homes. Late at night, you could hear tigers roaring around us.”

Yau is one of the Temuan people, the Orang Asli tribe that makes up the 25 or so families of Kampung Paya Rumput. Now in her 60s, she lives here surrounded by five of her seven children and their families, some in homes provided by the government, some in the modest houses they built themselves. Yau’s sons drive lorries or work in the factories, and her daughters work as cleaners in nearby Cyberjaya; it is all they are qualified to do. Yau herself is a widow and earns extra money by cultivating and harvesting pandanus leaves to weave into lopa’, lidded pouches that are sold in the city through Gerai OA. “This is a tradition for us,” Yau says. “My mother taught me, and her mother taught her, and so on.”

Media: Marie Claire Malaysia
Published: April 2014

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