April 29, 2015

Nang Chong Stories : Belian

Belian or Red Wood was highly valued by the Foochow pioneers.

They had to pay a lot of money for the processed wood : plants, long and short, flat table tops, beams (2inchesx2 inches) or (4 x2), all custom made.

It was not easy to cut through red wood and special carpenters would do the processing when a tree was cut. And there were not many red wood trees around. Hence when a belian tree was found in the jungle, the Foochow man would cry out and feel blessed.

But then in those days it was not too difficult to buy belian wood if one had money from rubber and pepper. Most houses had belian for the main parts of the construction like main beams, stairs, stilts,etc.

However during the communist insurgency of the 1970's when the old houses were abandoned, unscrupulous people came to vandalize  the homes, tore them apart and carried away the re-useable belian poles.

That was the two parts of our Foochow stories related to belian wood.

But my forgiving grandmother, uncles and aunts said that, "what could we do? We had to save our lives...that was just material things and we had made good use of the belian already...which sheltered us, which gave us protection. Good wood....."


Anonymous said...

Belian is now probably an endangered species!

Ensurai said...

Yes it is but Sarawak is still exporting belian, and within the state, merchants are still doing a brisk business.

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