June 14, 2012

Setengah Lunsin

Not many can remember how our parents used to buy soy sauce or vinegar from the sundry shops in Sibu or any part of Sarawak. With big families many parents would come home from the town with half a dozen of soy sauce and half a dozen of vinegar tied in this remarkable way. Have you ever thought how mathematical all these typing up of bottles can be? The bottles fit well  into each other side by side and  save a lot of space. They can be stacked up easily and breakage is almost impossible unless an accident happens.

The person tying up all these bottles together can be so skilful.
Alas it is a dying art now.


Setengah lunsin is the local Iban or Malay word for half a dozen. Lunsin is  the corrupted version of dozen. A dozen is 12 in numbers and that was why when we were kids we had to memorize the important timetable 1x12=12..up to 12x12=144.
Photo taken in a Padungan Road(Kuching) retail shop which still sells bottles of soy sauce tied together in  six-es.

this is a really interesting old  retail style of selling goods in large numbers.  The scene really brought back a  lot of memories.




Tied in this way the bottles can be easily stacked in the motor launches which plied between Sibu and the villages and perhaps Kuching and other parts of the coastal villages. Somehow these hardy bottles do not get broken easily. paper boxes or cartons were not yet invented so we could see whatever people bought.

the loveliest sight was the tying up of POP or aereated drinks like Cream Soda or Cherry or Orange made by Ngo Kiang or Ta Fong of Sibu. The bottles tied together in SIX are easier to carry than a whole wooden box of 36 or even 24...

The strings used in the 1940's - 1960's were originally jute strings. These knots were so secure that it was not easy for any "thief" to take away a bottle or two from the shipment. A tiny ribbon with the name of the purchaser would be very secure and the set would reach the village home right on time....Talk about good delivery system!! And a really secure system too!!

 Honesty is the best policy in any business...and especially in the society.

12 comments:

wenn said...

interesting fact!

lydia mason said...

That goes for condense milk too....and grenadine cordial(F&N).Fancy we can't find grenadine cordial in peninsular Malaysia.If we do...it's a different brand (Bols) and costs a lot.(possibly 3 times more)

Anonymous said...

Your wrote -- paper boxes or cartons were not yet invented --- IF only these things were not invented AT ALL, and most of all PLASTIC, this world would have been such a better place!

We somehow no longer know how to live simple and made-do with little. We are FORCED to PAY for all the extra packaging that manufacturers THINK we would be delighted to have.

Nothing annoyed me more then to have to buy things that wrapped in two layers of plastic wrappers!

Cindy

Daniel Yiek said...

long time no see - jute strings

Anonymous said...

Down my memory lane, how environmentally friendly

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Wenn...may be you are too young to have seen this in real life!! This is a sweet piece of my memory bank...thanks.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

dear Lydia...yes...indeed..we used to bring half dozen condensed milk or nestle's unsweetened fresh milk in small tins to visit our relatives in Lau King Howe Hospital near the Resident's house where your late uncle used to live!! We kids loved to see those tied up tins..and wondered when the whole dangling gift would "burst".....those were the days!!Yes Bols' grenadine cost an arm and a leg nowadays....We now use Sirap Ros..

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Dear Cindy...true what you said...I get very annoyed with layers and layers of plastic wrappings which are hard to open and later discard...if only we could still do what our forefathers had done..paper bags..strings...etc.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Daniel...I will scout around and see if some shopkeepers still use jute strings and take a few photos..especially for you...cheers.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

dear Anonymous...it is good to this..isn't it???? Must thank the Lee Fah Mee towkay for keeping alive some old ways...

Anonymous said...

Hi
In those days when we did not have boxes we had to use tali guni to tie up our bottles. All the petty traders who traded along the river (Bandung Boats) used this method. As children we learned how to tie up bottles in this way too...a part of our growing up. Amazing indeed to see this now.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Dear Anonymous
thanks for writing a comment. Yes indeed...this is really a good way to tie up bottles....I wish I know how to tie them up like this...want to learn to do it...