Thursday, 4 April 2013

Malay House

It is well-known that Malay houses in the old days did not use any metal nails but only wooden pegs. Some of these old house still stand today and visitors can view them while passing through villages.

There is one Malay model house on display called the tiang 12. I'm uncertain what tiang 12 refers to. I took photos underneath the model house but it had more than 12 stilts. I didn't take any photos of the model interior as I don't know whether visitors can take the roof off and count how many posts there were inside the house. So, tiang 12 remains a mystery.

The roof tiles are made of thick baked clay. There are 2 sources of this clay tiles, one is Malacca and the other is Singgora in Thailand. The Malacca clay roof tiles were of high quality and were also preferred when the builders made Captain Francis Light's bungalow, Suffolk House, near Jalan Air Hitam in Penang. The Singgora roof tiles were also superior to other roof tiles at the time.

There is a small bangsal (bamboo shed) adjoining the main house at one side, usually nearest the bathing area and bathing well, and near the kitchen entrance. This shed is important for privacy and serves as a most private quarters for the house owners - this is where mating occurs. Malay couples do not mate inside the master bedroom of the main house but inside the bamboo shed. After all the children  are born and the couple no longer needs to use the shed, the shed is then demolished.

Malay families are known to have a dozen babies or so, year after year or two years apart, till the mother reaches menopause.

I don't know whether the bamboo shed is the practice of other Malay couples but that's the story narrated by my father about his parents' lifestyle. His father Walid mated with his wife Inche, in a bamboo shed adjacent to the main house and the shed was later demolished, well before I was born. I only saw the main house before it too was demolished. According to my late father, surviving aunt and uncle, it was a flimsy shed, not as good as the main house.

The main house with an open platform or verandah (anjung) attached to the central part of the house. The bamboo shed is at the rear portion of the house. 
Rear aspect of the house. The main house is at left. The bamboo shed is at right.