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Terengganu Craft


This coloured and patterned cloth is now becoming popular in Malaysia and the best Malaysian batiks come from the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia. There are two types of batik, the hand drawn and the stamped. Recently there are also machine printed batik which design is clearer and colour on one side only.

Hand drawn batik uses a small copper cup and fountain pen like ‘janting’ with melted wax to draw across the length and breadth of the cloth. Dyeing process is like filling colour on the drawing block, only different is the outline is wax instead of pen. The waxed areas resist dye. The cloth will then sent to ‘boil’ in warm water in order to get rid of the wax after it is soaked in chemical that makes the colour stay.

Stamped batik has the similar process like hand drawn batik, only different is the janting will be replaced by a copper or sometimes a wooden stamp which looks like a domestic iron with artistically patterned bottom.

Today batik is not only used for outfits but some innovative commercial individual has made full use of this beautiful and artistic textile into making bags, cushion covers, curtains, slippers etc.


Songket Weaving

Songket or cloth of gold is originally from a mix of cotton and silk that was inter-woven with supplementary gold or silver thread. It is said to have evolved when the Malay sultanates began trading with China and India where the silk, gold and silver came from. Today the imitation thread is generally used to replace the gold and silver which is much expensive. Because of its unique material and weaving method, Songket was once exclusive to royalty, but today it is used during formal occasion, such as weddings.


Mengkuang and Pandanus Weaving

Mengkuang and Pandanus is a kind of plant grow wildly in the woods. Mengkuang weaving has started long before the history of Modern Malaysia till today. Before the weaving takes place, mengkuang leaves will be dyed into desired colour and dry under the sun. weaving always done as cottage industry in rural area and then sold in the market. The end products range from baskets, food covers, mats to some souvenir items such as coin porch, hand-holding fan, slipper etc.


Rattan Weaving

Rattan or ‘rotan’ in Malay language is the long climbing plant with thorny leaves and glossy, water resistant surface. There are several hundreds species of rattan growing wild in the tropical rainforest in Terengganu, winding their way up neighbouring trees and attain a height of 5 to 6 hundred feel. Because it is strong, can be easily bent without breaking and lasts for years, it is made into furniture by the locals.

According to the furniture makers, the good quality rattan for furniture making is always selected and cut between October to April. After being cut, the thorny leaves will be removed and then the plant will be boiled as to kill the tissues while getting rid the sugar content as well as to prevent it from attacked by woodworms. Poles within the rattan will be sealed with a liquid to stops any insects from entering whereas rattan with smaller poles will be used for weaving after being dried under the sun. Bigger rattan are always made into trunks up furniture such as bed and sofa, however what is more common in Terengganu is the baskets, fishing traps as well as picketing stakes or walking sticks


Wood Carving

Wood carving was originally found in houses of sulatans or Malay nobility as part of their interior decoration and the craftsmen were commissioned for their services. Because human depiction is prohibited in Islam, Malay wood carving gets its inspiration from flora, animal motif and Islamic art but this has never influence its finest artistically designs. Terengganu wood carving not only found in the beams, doorways, window shutters of a house, but also in the traditional boat making industry and some furniture items such as sofa, bed frame and mirror frame and as small as a jewelry box.


Wau Making (Kite)

Wau  (pronounce as ‘wow’) can appear in all shapes and size but the most popular and famous kite is the moon kite (wau bulan) and cat kite (wau kucing) in the east coast.Kite making requires patience and tremendous skill. Bamboo will be cut and make into the frame or skeleton of the kite. The best time to cut the bamboo is in November or December and this will be kept for 10 months before it is split and soaked in water followed by heated to straighten and toughen. On the other hand, designs are traced on a tinted and shiny glazed paper and then carefully cut out and pasted on paper which is glued to the bamboo skeleton. The designs are normally flowers with vines which signifies women (flower) and man (vine), eg. if the flowers are in bud form, it symbolizes a young woman etc. In some older designs, flowers were drawn from the side and back to represent the shy and reserved personality of female in those days whereas for the vines, the more meandering the vines, the more twists and turns in a man’s life. There are also waus that are made using the batik technique or painted by batik artists and the designs are always more creative and less formalized by tradition.It is never an easy job to fly a Wau kite into the sky. A traditional Wau can be as big as 3.5m in height and 2.5 m wing span and usually needs the help of a group of person to bring it to the sky. In a windy day, a Wau can fly up to 450m into the sky. To choose a good kite, you should look at the harmonious colours matched and the flowers as well as the vines drawn which represent the inner state of the kite maker.



The people in Terengganu are well known for their creativeness. A simple item will turn into a most exquisite and delicate article by their hands. Brassware is generally a cottage activity. It is very usual that the son will learn the skill and trading strategy from his father whom had also learned from his father and later brings forth to the next generations. Regardless whether it is from silver, wood or pewter, brassware like vases, ashtrays, jugs, candle stands, napkin holders, filigree jewellery, incense burners etc are turned into a piece of fine and presentable art and at the same time with practical usage. This is why brassware is always one of the ideal surveniors that one can bring home. It is believed that the skills were taught to the local folk by Chinese settlers from Funan. The lost-wax method is usually employed, though sandcasting is also used. At the Central Market, or Pasar Payang, located by the Terengganu river, brassware is sold amongst many other enticements.


Keris Making

This double edged wavy blade dagger is the synonymous with the Malay culture and way of life. In the ancient time, a man walks without a keris was akin to walking around in naked. In those days, keris was always believed to be endowed with mystical powers and guardian spirit, this makes it serves the function as weapon to defend oneself in a combat and to use for medicinal purposes. There are handful of Malay legendaries about keris. The famous among these will be the keris of Hang Tuah who is the Malay hero during the Sultanate of Melaka. Hang Tuah’s keris, Taming Sari was presented by the King of Majapahit to Sultan of Melaka after Hang Tuah won in a challenge. This keris was believed to have endowed with powerful spirit. Whoever possesses this keris would attain invulnerability. There was a story saying that Hang Tuah killed his childhood friend, Hang Jebat because of being disloyal to the Sultan with this Taming Sari. He was very ashamed to have killed his own childhood friend in the name of loyalty, therefore he then returned the keris to the Sultan. There is always romance and adventure and nobility in a keris. Because of being so precious, keris is always highly valued and treated with special care.

Keris has two kind of shapes: keris lurus (straight keris) and keris luk (meandering keris). Empu, the keris maker will make the dagger accordance with the wish of consumer. Whether straight or luk, this will only be done during which the nickel inserted iron rod is repeatedly being forged and smoldered.

The fluid design of the blade makes the keris stand out as a unique dagger-like weapon. Its ornate carved handle also provides for a strong grip. It is no wonder that the keris is one of the oldest of personal weapons.

Made from the combination of eight to ten different metals, the spiritual qualities of the keris are known to include the spirits of warriors. Some myths even warn that certain lethal daggers should never be simply removed from their sheaths for their blades must taste blood before being inserted again.

Keris making is considered as a dying art in Malaysia, however visit to the keris making centre in Kampung Pasir Panjang and Kampung Ladang Titian in Kuala Terengganu is still worth. Here you can see how a piece of raw iron is to turn into this significance and meaning rich weapon. You can also purchase you own piece of keris collection with relatively cheap price.


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