By: RaY KinZoKu

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Sunday, 25-Mar-2007 12:26 Email | Share | Bookmark
KELANTAN : The Doors To Nowhere

Leaning against the wall was this ..
An old wooden partition with intricately carved door ..
Perhaps a hundred years old or so ..
The carpenter must had spent quite some time for this piece ..
No nail just wooden pegs for joining, called Pasak
The Pasak goes on every joint, such as these ..
Another piece, beautiful but quite worn
The carvings are great but the crack spoils the beauty ..
None is greater than the meaning of these words ..
Motives from the late 19th century ...
At the other side, was another wooden partition ..
Notice the door knob, unmistakably over 100 years old ..
Again, adorned with old Kelantanese carvings
Look carefully and you will see the Pasak in place ..
A decorative carved panel ..
On my second visit, it was varnished ..
Probably to hide all the abuses inflicted by passing years ..
Next to it was another piece ..
Adorned with carvings, much like the other three ..
A carved panel, could you find the Pasak holes ?
The whole piece seen from an angle ..
Seen from a different angle ..
In the name of God ...
.. my soul and my way of life
Black & White


A week ( or so ) ago, I spent my morning at a service center at Jalan Sultanah Zainab,
in Kota Bharu. For a routine car service of course.

Waiting for them to finish things up would normally take a few hours so after a while, I got
bored and decided to take a stroll in the direction of the town center, hoping to find new
" interesting " stuffs along the way. Those small but interesting details of Kota Bharu that
I often overlook when behind the wheel.

So, there was this antique shop just down the road where I was heading to.
Nothing much to see from the outside as the shop itself looked rather old and dull,
besides the interior was dark and not so inviting. I was thinking of taking a right turn at
the T - junction ( just a few steps further from the shop ) and was walking pass by it when
something on the pavement outside, caught my attention - four wooden partitions with
carved panels and doors
, which I strongly believe were taken from old, late 19th or
early 20th century traditional Kelantanese Malay dwellings, houses of Malay aristocrats
of those days. Perhaps too big to bring inside, they were left there, placed leaning
against the walls by the shop owner.

In fact they were there for already quite some time, noticed their presence at the spot
many times before while driving along Jalan Sultanah Zainab, one of my few regular
routes into the town. But I only saw them from afar, didn't feel the push to enquire the
owner about them. Now that I had came this close, overwhelmed by curiosity, I decided
to proceed to the shop for some Q & A.

I was trying to get in but the front door was locked from inside.
I was about to leave, thinking of another day, another chance, when a female caretaker
( well, she didn't look like the owner ) probably in her late 30s quickly came and
answered the door with a "surprised" look ( and a bit reluctant too, I wonder why, maybe
she didn't expect people to barge in like that ? at that hours ? Maybe she was having her
morning Nasi Berlauk .. he he .. if so, sorry for that )

So, not to arouse unnecessary suspicions, I made my purpose clear at the door step :

ME : Assalamualaikum .. errr ... Hok tock luwwaa nih nok juwaa kor ?

( Assalamualaikum .. err .. Those things out there, are you going to sell them ? )

SHE : Waalaikumussalam ... Oh, maemae nok juwaa

( Yes, those are for sale )

ME : Ambik manno belako ? Kelate kor Tganung ?

( Where did you get them ? Kelantan or Terengganu ? )

SHE : Kelate belako. Dekak dekak nih jah. Hok ghumoh ghajo tuh.

( All from Kelantan. Just around here. From the old, torn down houses belonged to the royal families, you see ... )

ME : Berghapo letok ?

( Okay. So, how much you are willing to sell them ? )

She went on explaining the prices, which really surprised me to the bone.
Quite a sum for badly maintained, decaying old stuffs ( but fairly in good condition ).
I was a bit confused with her description, which price for which, as she just pointed them
roughly ( I think she knew that I couldn't afford one .. ha ha ha ).

But, getting the idea on how much she expected for those pieces, I had to scrap off my
initial plan of securing them .....

( yes, I did think of that in the first place ~ * sigh ~, if only I got all the cash )

However, feeling a bit " worried " about their conditions, I asked :

ME : Takpo kor letok luwwaa lagu tuh ?

( Wow, and you just keep them outside like that ? )

SHE : Takpo, takdok orghae nok churghi

( I don't think people would like to steal it ..... )

ME : Hujae, panah pulok lagu mano ?

( What about the elements ? the heat ? the rain ? dirt and dust ? )

SHE : Takpo, kayu chengal belako tuh ..

( Not to worry, those are Chengal wood, you see .... )

ME : Oh, gitu kkor .... takpo lah, terghimo kasseih la daeh ..

( Oh ... okay ... Well then, thanks a lot )

I left the shop with lots of questions in mind.

Where exactly did they come from ? What really happened to the houses ?
The house owners who sold them, what were they thinking when they sold away those
valuable heirlooms ? Do I know them ? Close relatives perhaps ? It would be really great
if only I could at least casually trace their origins but the caretaker seemed reluctant to
explain where she got them ....... or maybe she just doesn't have the idea.

Nevertheless, the visit to the antique shop was a sad one.
The house that my late father ( and his father too ! ) grew up in ended up much in the
same way, only luckier perhaps. Maybe I will elaborate that later, in my future entry.

But most importantly, it reminds me of the " inconvenient truth ".
The truth or reality that much of the real Kelantanese architectural treasures are left to rot
and decay out there under the sun, on the vast Kelantanese northern plain.
My growing up days in Kota Bharu were littered with the sight of many magnificent old
houses, ornate wooden gates and doors, fading silently into oblivion and disappearing
from the very land that brought them up.

Even at present, old houses with priceless historical and cultural values are left to
crumble, or relentlessly torn down from existence, leaving only barren spaces that stay
unchanged for years and years. For the note, some empty lots you might find in Kota
Bharu were not empty from the start. There used to be great, beautiful works of art on
them. I would love to give some examples, but let me keep that for my future entry.

However, those who do care ( ironically, in most cases, not the owners ), rescued them
from the hands that neglected them, had them beautifully restored or rebuilt - some even
ended up outside Kelantan. A praiseworthy move but nevertheless a very sad thing to live
with. Like giving away your only, beloved child for adoption ....

Still, many are counting their days
and resting their fate on attitudes of their current owners.

Who knows what I would find at the same antique shop next weekend ?

( only God knows ... )

Foot Note :

( 1 ) Chengal or Neobalanocarpus heimii, a species of tropical heavy hardwood, very resistant to termite attack
and fungal infestation, in the past used mainly to line railway tracks and for bridge constructions, also the most sought after,
excellent housing materials.

~~~~~~~~~~ # ~ # ~ # ~ # ~~~~~~~~~~

Only God Knows

Muslim believes that everything, both seen and the unseen, animate and the inanimate,
are all govern by the will of God and to continuously reassuring, reminding oneself of it
and to testify wholeheartedly, is the most triumphant thing in a Muslim life.

The Malays, being Muslims, often incorporated quotes from the Holy Quran and the
Hadith ( words of the Prophet Muhammad ( p.b.u.h ) ) into their decorative
metalworkings and woodcarvings for such purposes. Often on items and places that
are significant or meaningful, representing aspects of life such as the doors - movable
barriers which not only separate but also connect living spaces with different living
spaces, joining life many activities.

Emm ... what a nice place ( way ) to be solemnly reminded !

بسم الله عَلَى نَفْسِي وَ دِينِي

Read : Bismi Llahi a'la nafsii wa diinii
( In the name of God, ( to Him I submit ) my soul and my way of life )

لا حول ولا قوة إلا بالله العلي العظيم

Read : La hawla wala quwwata illa billahil aliyyilazeem
( There is no Might or Power except with God, the most High, the most Great )

سبحان الله

Read : Subhan'allah ( God, The Most Supreme )

~~~~~~~~~~ # ~ # ~ # ~ # ~~~~~~~~~~

An old, mentally challenged woman ( very sorry if I got that wrong ) was also there when
I was snapping these photos.

She sat there on the cold floor, muttering words that I hardly could catch.
At the same time, rifling through the contents of her " countless " plastic shopping bags,
stuffed with unknown items that didn't look like any merchandise.
She deserves our special attentions, love and respect.

The old door too.

" There is
nothing new in the world
except the history you do not know "

Harry Truman

( 1884 ~ 1972 ; U.S President, 1945–1953)

RELATED : Speaking about old doors !

* Click photo for details.

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