December 13, 2011

Linoleum in Sarawak

Floors in a tropical country are beautiful. They can be made from wood or bamboo. The best are the hard woods like Selangan Batu or Belian.

The early 50's saw the arrival of floor lino and every one started buying them up from the Sibu shops like Tai Sing(Blacksmith Road) or Tai Lung (No.1 High Street). today in the 21st Century they are still being sold and made use of for different purposes. The linoleum sold in the shops for the Sarawak market is definitely not the same as those sold by businesses in the US or the UK.

Ours are all rolled up and you actually buy them Cash and Carry. In Europe a house owner would need to call an expert to install the linoleum tiles.

Any way...I am writing about the so called linoleum flooring material sold in Sarawak and I just wonder how many people can recognise these two photos. Enjoy some nostalgia!!


The linoleum patterns and colours are so different from those of yesteryears. And they are a little thinner too. But the prices are higher now. Today we use meters to measure the material. In my grandmother's time the shopkeepers used the Chinese measurement of Chien ( a little less than a yard) and later they used yard. So in fact I went through three systems of measurements. I am not at all confused..it is just a matter of good calculations and proper measurements .....

In the olden days young mothers would always buy a small piece of linoleum to be placed under the baby bouncer or NYUT..a piece of cloth would be used to catch the pee from the sleeping baby...Those were the  nappy-less days. The lino would keep the wooden floor dry and clean. And at times three or four children would just have to make do with their piece of lino  on the floor without any mattress or bedsheets!! How affluent we have become over the years!!

Do you know who invented this flooring material?

Fredrick Walton invented linoleum in 1860. He got the idea for his product by observing the skin produced by oxidized linseed oil that forms on paint. Later the Scottish flooring manufacturer Michael Nairn made it famous.The name linoleum comes from the Latin word linum which means flax and the Latin word oleum which means oil.

So when you have a chance to see linoleum covering a table or an uneven floor you would now realise how far it has travelled from Europe to our parts of the world.

8 comments:

Bengbeng said...

THe last time i saw one was in the early 90s in my in laws hse. Great for home use, easy to maintain too n priced reasonably.Nowadays most ppl use tiling

sarawakiana said...

Hi Bengbeng
How are you?

Hope you are enjoying your break...

Yes I was trying to find a home where lino is still being used and take some photos...nowadays..the Italian Tile is popular...even mosaic is not used...

Ann said...

too hot and humid to cycle or walk in South East Asia. A neighbour in NTU walks to work. He had the luxuary of showering in the Uni staff bathroom before he lectures. My husband refused.

Ann said...

these linos, are they what my cantonese call Paper covers, and U mustn't wet it too much? The moment you spill some water, u must quickly mop it up.

I have been to people's house to take this a step further, never clean the lino, after you go to their house, your sole get black.

I never have this luxuary, the govt quarters I stayed, always had woodenm floors, same as my grand parents' SAN BA house.

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