Many of you would not be able to recognise some of these farm implements/tools. They are the traditional farm implements used by local indigenous farmers in Sarawak. Bekenu is about half a hour's drive from Miri and is a very old farming town with a town square facing the Bekenu river. It probably started as a Kedayan fishing village.
Most of the shop houses in Bekenu are still the original 1930's wooden shops. However the newer shops are two storey concrete buildings added in the 1970's when the Sibu-Miri road was completed and more farm land was opened up. I am glad the Bekenu District Council maintains the two storey building rule. I am not for high rise buildings. May be that is why Bekenu is so attractive to me.
Perhaps not even the Chinese who have been living here for three or four generations buy these tools or make use of them today. Many of them have left their farms and have gone on to other businesses. Besides there is a belief that the Chinese use the cangkul mainly and even when they migrate to USA or Australia they would bring their cangkul with them. They have their own version of the parang too.
My neighbour who is a Melanau has her own traditional parang crafted specifically for her personal use. And she can use it very well even though she is now more than 70 years old. I use a pair of gardening scissors to do what she can do very well!! One of my gardening scissors became old and rusty and even broke into two. Her parang is good for life!
This shop caters mainly to the needs of the local indigenous farmers for the last 60 or so years. The young towkay was not even born when the last big flood in Bekenu took place in 1962. The flood was as high as the first floor of the shops. And lots of articles were written about the flood.One aerial photo I saw was of rowing boats trying to get people out of the shophouses from the first floor. Bekenu was truly inundated. that was the time when fishermen who had rowing boats came to save their towkays and their families.
That's a very sharp knife...(ii)
Ready made parang bengkok and normal parang for farmers to buy. All they need is make their own handles. Note the neat wooden box with good compartments.
Old fashion hand coconut scrapper
Home made parangs for sale. I often wonder why parangs are always hung up and not placed on shelves like scouts' knives etc.
Young Bekenu Chinese towkay who was patient in answering inquisitive questions.
These parangs have ready made handles. Note the wooden box. This amongst others were made by the towkay's father many years ago.
It is always a wonderful experience to go into a very old traditional shop and get to know the owner. To me this was a very special trip into the past...I was actually looking at farm implements my uncles and aunts would have bought for their farm and rubber small holding. And I thought it might have been difficult to find a straight hoe like this one below....
However at the end of the visit I just wish I could see an old traditional blacksmith making all those lovely banging noises in his shop........
(i) tin plate to insert into rubber trees to help latex flow into the latex bowls.
(ii) rubber tapping knife. The more expensive they are the more long lasting they will be. Most of these are made in Thailand today.