Albeit being in demand during the Ramadhan season, the handmade songkok industry is considered a dying industry due to the commercialisation of machine-made songkok. Only a handful of skilled songkok makers are left in Malaysia.
2. Handmade wau
Wau is among the many traditional crafts that symbolises our national identity. It was also adopted as a brand logo by the Malaysian Airlines. Predominantly handcrafted in Kelantan, the mastery of wau-making takes years of commitment and passion. There is only a handful of wau artisans left in Kelantan.
3. Rattan furniture making and rattan weaving
The making of rattan furniture is a time-consuming and skill-demanding process, moreover, the business itself was also not considered lucrative albeit the stable income. The rattan furniture makers who are still in the industry thought that youngsters may not find this industry attractive due to the commitment that one has to invest.
4. Bamboo fireworks
Commonly used during Malay weddings back in the days, this craft is suffering from a decline in interest due to modernisation and import of China-made fireworks. According to news coverage, first generation bamboo fireworks makers learned the craft from Japanese prior to the outbreak of World War II. Notably, bamboo fireworks is considered a unique traditional craft in Malacca.
5. Songket weaving
Songket is a type of handwoven fabric which is embossed with metallic silver or gold patterns or motifs. It is thought to have been brought into the Malay Peninsula through political marriages, trade and migration from Indo-China. An intricate piece of songket can take up to 6 months to weave and are usually made to order. The weaving process is known to be skill-demanding and time-consuming.
6. Keris making
The traditional keris-making industry is categorised into 2 parts where the blade is made separately from the handle and the sheath. The blade is made by traditional silversmiths whereas the handle and sheath are made with traditional woodwork. The pieces will then be assembled to make a complete set of keris. Decorative patterns are engraved onto the wood and sprayed with a layer of protective coating for a long-lasting effect. The sheath is usually made to order nowadays.
7. Gold and silversmithing
Silversmithing was deemed as Kelantan’s “thriving heritage” by The Malaysian Times. Silver was in demand for creation of a wide array of products such as household items, jewelleries, keris sheath, brooches and more recently, shoe embellishments. Although silverware and silvers in general are still highly demanded, however only a few traditional silver artisans are left to keep the traditional silver industry alive.
Goldsmithing on the other hand is more common in Terengganu and the traditional goldsmithing industry is also dwindling. Although traditional artisanry of goldsmithing is the selling point of traditional gold articles, low income was thought to be the main reason why younger generations find this industry an undesirable field to pursue.
8. Handmade bamboo blinds
The bamboo blinds industry was a popular trade back in the 50s and 60s due to bamboo’s long-lasting property in comparison to wood. However, due to price fluctuation of raw materials and the commercialisation of mass-produced plastic blinds, bamboo blinds became less in demand and is now regarded as one of the dying traditional crafts in Malaysia.