March 8, 2011

Bungki and Cangkul

I believe most descendants of Foochow pioneers would not forget the importance of bungki in their family history in Sibu.

My father and his siblings were well trained in carrying the bungki and their muscles were especially good when the Japanese came. It was a hard time for them as they had to rise early and carry their own bungki and cangkul and walk all the way to flatten the hills to build the first Sibu Airport in Sungei Merah.

A bungki is often a very useful basket to have at home. It is used to carry soil and rubbish. Whenever we swept leaves or we had to clear some wood chips we used the bungki to help us. As kids we used to bungki to catch fish in the drains. It was more fun time than work whenver we tried our luck catching fish. It was only very much later that I realised that many fishermen in China do indeed use bungki to harvest their fish.

Schools sued to get their students to carry soil and rubbish with bungki but recently work parties have been stopped by the authorities and students now do not have a chance to dirty their hands.

The cangkul is a useful Chinese gardening tool. And it is not found elsewhere outside Asia and South east Asia. And it is quite a skill to have. How you hold it on the shoulder and walk straight with a bungki fitted at the end. It is a homely sight indeed. To me it means a man who knows how to make a living and put food on the table for his family.

This is a modern wheelbarrow which has taken the place of a bungki. The single whee has made human legs redundant.
 A technological innovation. A leap forward?

On the 110th Anniversary of the Settlement of Ensurai and Sg Merah it would be nice to remember how hard the Foochow farmers worked using their hands to eek out a living. The bungki and the cangkul would always remind me of my ancestors who created this land and brought forth a good life for the later generations!! We must be grateful to God and our ancestors who had the faith to come to this difficult and almost impossible land.

Out of the wilderness!!


wenn said...

oh, that's called bungki?

Sarawakiana@2 said... mean you have never seen a bungki? Is it not used in West Malaysia?

Ann said...

Is bungki a Malay word? I recall my Ah Kung also calling it a Bun kie, always thought it was a Cantonese word.

These days, are the bungki made of plastic as with almost everything else?

Sarawakiana@2 said...

I think bungki is a Chinese term. You might be right...Cantonese in origin?

Yes I find the plastic bungki a bit the rattan.

Ah Ngao said...

the rattan one lasting whereas the plastic one not lasting. rattan more expensive,eh? the wheel barrow,we called it "cock car" or kay kong chia. what the Foochow called it?

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Ah Ngao..true the rattan bungki is very lasting...Why Kay Kong chia?

We Foochows simply call it Turh Chia (Push cart).

Interesting Hokkien name.

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