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Top 8 Penan Handwoven Items That Everyone Should Have

In Sarawak, it is normal for one person to own at least one traditional item that is used as an everyday thing.

Whether it is a hand-woven mat or a basket, traditional items aren’t just decorative, they’re also practical.

For the love of traditional indigenous items, KajoMag has compiled top 8 traditional Penan handcrafted items discovered at the the 2017 edition of the Non Timber Forest Product (NTFP) festival which are still practical for modern day use.

1. Kitong

Penan Item 1: Kitong
Penan Item 1: Kitong

Purpose: The kitong is a rattan basket used traditionally by the Penans to store apu nangah (sago flour) or cooking utensils.

Alternative: While the kitong can still be used to store flour, rice and cooking utensils, it can also be used to store everyday items such as nail polish, canned food items or even as a key holder

2. Bukul

Penan Item 2: Bukul
Penan Item 2: Bukul

Purpose: A traditional Penan backpack made from rattan, it was commonly used to carry plants and herbs they gathered in the jungle . The betik, which is the motif on the rattan bag, depicts patterns inspired by the jungle such as plant vines and bird’s eyes.

Alternative: Imagine using this effortlessly stylish backpack for your books as you walk around campus.

3. Berat Sakin

Penan Item 3: Coaster
Penan Item 3:  Berat Sakin

Purpose: Coaster. Surprised?

Alternative: Still relevant, looks chic and stylish in any setting.

4. Sekepit

Penan Item 4: Sekepit
Penan Item 4: Sekepit

Purpose: A small pouch used by the Penans to store small items like tobacco cigarettes when hunting in the forest

Alternative:  A cool yet practical to carry your power bank and smart phone.

5. Mak

Penan Item 5: Mak
Penan Item 5: Mak

Purpose: Rattan mats

Alternative: A convenient size and practical to be used as a mat or a table runner. Place a piece of glass over it and you have an interesting focal piece.

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6. Pihan

Penan Item 6: Pihan
Penan Item 6: Pihan

Purpose: A Penan’s rattan bag

Alternative: Consider swapping your H&M bag for this as your staple everyday handbag

7. Basah

Purpose: A western Penan rattan bracelet. Most of the basah salak motifs are patterns inspired by snake skin. To give the rattan its shiny colour, natural dye is used.

Alternative: Great gifts if you have a lot of friends

8. Tabit

Penan Item 8: Tabit
Penan Item 8: Tabit

Purpose: The tabit is a Penan traditional garment made from rattan. It is worn around the waist over a loincloth to protect the wearer from sitting on thorns or other sharp objects when they sit on the forest floor.

Alternative: Frame it and put up as decoration. It’ll make an interesting conversation topic when people come to visit.

To know more about NTFP, click here to check out their website.

Patricia Hului
Patricia Hului wants to live in a world where you can eat whatever you want and not gain weight. She grew up in Bintulu, Sarawak and graduated from the University Malaysia Sabah with a degree in Marine Science. She worked for The Borneo Post SEEDS, which is now defunct. When she's not writing, you can find her in a studio taking belly dance classes, hiking up a hill or browsing through Pinterest. Follow her on Instagram at @patriciahului, Facebook at Patricia Hului at Kajomag.com or Twitter at @patriciahului.
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