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Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Story of Labu Sayong (English Version)

Long before modern inventions were heard off, heritage of innovation was already firmly in place in the Malay archipelagos, breathing beauty and cultural tradition into everyday objects.

The labu Sayong (water calabash) is a Malay earthenware container. It takes its shape from the gourd or starfruit and is used as a water container. The clay used for Malay pottery is a terra-cotta clay found by streams, riverbanks, and paddy fields. A potter's wheel is not used in Malay pottery making. The labu is coated with river silt with a high iron content, and the surface of the pottery is burnished to a smooth polish with a pebble, a technique carried out by potters at the town of Sayong on the Perak River in West Malaysia. 

At Sayong, a pot is placed inverted on a rack made from tree branches, with a fire pit below, and after four to five hours the pot is placed into the glowing embers. The color can range from yellowish brown to rust-red, depending on the iron content. A pot is usually decorated with foliage motifs. It was traditionally part of the paraphernalia used in rituals performed during a healing ceremony whereby the water kept in the labu was blessed with incantations. Traditional Malay pottery sites are found on or near ancient routes that connect the tributaries of the Perak Rivers.

Its (Labu Sayong ) burnt-black colour and unique gourd-shape give it the ability to cool its contents quickly and some believe that water stored in such a manner is palliative against many illnesses and disorders.

Labu Sayong is made from very fine clay soil, which is first pounded into extremely fine powder and then separated from coarser remains and wood (from the pounding). Water is then added and the mixture kneaded and shaped into its characteristic "double-bulb" shape, both of which are traditional skills. 

The labu is then dried in the sun to ensure even pre-drying, and baked in a kiln to a sufficiently high temperature. When this is done, the labu is removed from the kiln and "roasted" in padi husk, until it turns into a rich black colour.

The distinct gourd shape of the labu sayong assists the cooling of water, a necessary pleasure in the hot Malaysian climate. The inherent minerals in the labu sayong's chief clay and minerals, believed to be able to cure fevers and coughs. Considering the popularity of mineral pots today, could it be that our forefathers had already put this concept to good use centuries ago?


Example Qoutation Harry Labu..Click to see it