Who are they and what they do

Tompoq Topoh bunga moyang weaving

 

 

 

Tompoq Topoh means “the start of a collaborative effort”, from the Mah Meri word tompoq “the start of a weave” and topoh which means an interlocking mat pattern.

 

Tompok Topoh is a Mah Meri women’s workshop held in Kampung Orang Asli Sungai Bumbun, in Pulau Carey, not far from Klang, about an hour’s drive from Kuala Lumpur. 

The workshops began in 2003 at the initiative of a Mah Meri woman, Gendoi Samah, who was alarmed by a decline in interest in pandanus weaving in 2000. This was due to the loss of available raw materials (ie. the disappearance of clumps of pandanus) largely as a result of land clearance. With the help of her daughter, Gendoi Samah gathered her extended family and friends and worked to revive the weaving of betel pouches, mats and baskets, traditionally made by Mah Meri women for personal and everyday use as well as to supplement their families’ income.

With the support of several individuals, non-governmental organisations and the Malaysian Handicraft Development Corporation, they managed to improve the weaving process as well as their weaving and dyeing skills. They also replanted almost one thousand pandanus seedlings with grants from the Regional Network for Indigenous Peoples (RNIP) and Ford Motor Company.

Today Tompoq Topoh has about twenty members, all women, from Sungai Bumbun village in Pulau Carey . Most of them are active weavers who sell their craft as their main or supplementary incomes.

What a traveller can experience 

Meet the women of Tompoq Topoh and the villagers by visiting them at Kampung Sungai Bumbun. As long as you come with humility and show respect you will be welcome “not as a tourist but as a friend of the community” said Reita Rahim, from Gerai OA, who has been working closely with them for 6 years. If you speak sedikit bahasa melayu (a little malay) you can chat with them, discover the Mah Meri culture and concerns and learn about the craft process. Don’t be surprised if you are questioned about your own personal background and history; it is part of the sharing. Don’t take it personaly if they are shy or even if they run away when they see you. Give them some time. If you are recognized as a kindly visitor, you will always be remembered as a guest.

Visit the Tompoq Topoh workshop and the men’s wood carving workshops: craft production is the main source of income of more than 20 families, so there is always some craft work to see. You can call in advance for a nipah leaf weaving demo (from 40-70 RM depending on the duration.)

Learn how to weave and make beautiful decorations from nipah leaves. A weaving workshop can be organized for individuals or groups either at Kampung Sg. Bumbun or at a location of your choice (school, public places, etc), subject to return transport being provided for the weavers.

tt-pandanus-pouch

Buy Tompoq Topoh craft, either at their workshop, through Gerai OA or at the MNS shop. NEW you can buy now online at Elevyn online Tompoq Topoh shop. They produce colorful fine pouches designed from traditional betel and medicine pouches for your namecards, mobile phone, purses, etc. They also weave decorations from nipah leaves. Prices for each product are decided by the Mah Meri women with the help of Gerai OA in order to provide them with a fair income. This price includes the costs of harvesting the raw material, the process prior to weaving and the time consumed for weaving.

ttmaterial-collecting-could-be-dangerousBe aware that decorations made from Nipah leaves require harvesting in the mangroves and is time consuming, because nowadays nipah has to be collected far away from the village as a result of illegal land clearance. Tompoq Topoh only harvests what is necessary, and in the case of pandanus they replant seedlings to ensure a continous supply.

Some advice when visiting the village :- wear comfortable clothes suitable for hot and wet weather (there is no air conditioning !) – wear comfortable walking shoes, sandals or slippers (the pathway can be very muddy after the rain, and you must remove your shoes before entering the women’s workshop) – don’t forget your mosquito repellent and sun gear – bring your own food and water. You can also bring some tea or coffee to share with the ladies.

Contacts

Tompoq Topoh chairperson, Rosiah Kengkeng, (only speaks Malay) mobile phone +60 13 343 5211 (mobile network is ok at the village).

Reita Rahim from Gerai OA can help you to organize a visit for individuals or a group, a workshop, a demonstration etc. Mobile phone +60 19 751 8686 email: geraioa@gmail.com

Location : Kampung Orang Asli Sungai Bumbun, Pulau Carey, 42960 Kuala Langat, Selangor

Tompoq Topoh’s shop on line at http://www.elevyn.com/shop/tompoqtopoh

How to get there

By bus or by car, please download the explanations.

Related posts

Gerai OA, the indigenous people’s stall

To go further we recommend

Download the booklet Chita’Hae written by Sungai Bumbun Mah Meri women (in English) and buy it when you go to the village or at a Gerai OA stall, or at the MNS shop.

The Center for Orang Asli Concerns (COAC) website provides information and commentary on the Orang Asli, . Interesting articles about Pulau Carey and Orang Asli issues can be found in Orang asli initiatives /community projects.

Written by C.Bossis, Kuala Lumpur, 11 October 2008
Special thanks to Reita Rahim and Tompoq Tompoh women.Permission granted to reproduce for personal use only. Commercial use is prohibited.

Advertisements