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Must Dos: Gallery, Museum, Muslim house

Must Dos: Gallery, Museum, Muslim house

The Kuala Lumpur City Gallery is the newest attraction in town and has the best ever written up infos on Kuala Lumpur’s past. It is housed in a 114 year old beautiful building right in the face lifted centre of Merdeka Square. The Gallery provides a surprisingly entertaining description of Chinatown and its peculiarities.

Presented on a big poster page with lots of small writing about shophouse heritage, the rest of Kuala Lumpur’s history rests on round columns… it was an easy and pleasant read in understandable English – such a rarity I got so exited I read all of it!

 

Kuala Lumpur City Gallery

 

Sitting in front of the Gallery and standing next to the Kuala Lumpur’s skyline wood veneer mural.

Kuala Lumpur City Gallery Kuala Lumpur City Gallery

 

The gallery is operated by a private company so the gift shop exceeds the size of the exhibition and sells gifts made of wood veneer. You can also have a look at the makings of various veneer collectibles. They look like they have been carved by hand but it’s laser machines that do the cutting which is a bit of a spoiler.

Kuala Lumpur City Gallery

 

Next best sight seeing spot. The textile museum. Worth the visit for the building itself, yet another treat is that admission is free. We were the only ones in the museum and after filling out some personal details for their stats,we had the whole place to ourselves. I liked the fused Anglo-Mughal architecture a lot, it was one of numerous British colonial beauties in Kuala Lumpur that has been designed by the architect AC Norman by the end of the 19th century.

Kuala Lumpur Textile Museum

 

Ready to find out about Malaysia’s textile history.

Kuala Lumpur Textile Museum

 

‘Like’.

Kuala Lumpur Textile Museum

 

Traditional weaving and materials of the Sarawak ancestors have influenced textile development in the country.  The Sarawak  are an ethnic group and that name applies to the Malaysian state on the island of Borneo. Malay people, like their ancestors rarely smile.

Kuala Lumpur Textile Museum

 

Interesting floor design and multi purpose shawls.

Kuala Lumpur Textile Museum Kuala Lumpur Textile Museum

 

Liked those garments. The black top and orange skirt could equally well stand in shop windows.

Kuala Lumpur Textile Museum Kuala Lumpur Textile Museum

 

Neat.

Kuala Lumpur Textile Museum

 

You can see different methods of decorating cloth, practised by the Malays during the 18th and 19th century.

Kuala Lumpur Textile Museum

 

And skater boy, helping out to save up for a new board.

Kuala Lumpur Textile Museum

 

The art of embroidery.

Kuala Lumpur Textile Museum

 

Women do not smoke in toilets. The textile museum totally acknowledged that fact.

Kuala Lumpur Textile Museum

 

The highlight of heritage sight seeing was our visit to the Ruman Penghulu Abu Seman heritage house, thanks to our super quirky guide.The museum looks a bit lost in the midst of sky-scraping towers.

Rumah Penghulu Heritage House Museum

 

Step inside…

Rumah Penghulu Heritage House Museum

 

…apply plenty of mosquito repellent for the tour and use the fan provided by dear Mrs Jee Meng Jeau.

Rumah Penghulu Heritage House Museum Malaysia

 

Mrs Jee Meng Jeau was truly a treasure in the sight seeing industry. She took 45 minutes to walk us through the heritage house, which has been refurnished in every detail of traditional Muslim-Malay housing. It was a bit like entering another world and listening to the sacred ways of a Muslim household. You can see the crescent moon and star which distinguishes Muslim houses. This one was originally built between 1916 and 1930.

Rumah Penghulu Heritage House Museum Malaysia Rumah Penghulu Heritage House Museum Malaysia

 

No photos allowed inside, means plenty of photos outside.

Rumah Penghulu Heritage House Museum Malaysia

 

Architecture makes you bow for the head of the village waiting inside. The main entrance was reserved for the superior male gender. The females enter at the back.

Rumah Penghulu Heritage House Museum Malaysia Rumah Penghulu Heritage House Museum Malaysia

 

The chief would sit on those stairs, listen and decide on matters of concern and conflict of the village people.

Rumah Penghulu Heritage House Museum Malaysia

 

Mrs Jee Meng Jeau would give an explicit account of a Muslim house…. build in traditional Malay manner without any nails… the status of the owner… head of the village and therefore blessed with legislative and executive powers over the residents… the sad destiny of heritage houses like this one… left to be taken by the jungle because the owner only had daughters and even today inheritance only applies to male heirs in Malaysia… the decorative wooden carvings… a symbol for the suppressed potential of the artist… because Allah doesn’t allow to be challenged in perfectionism… the low windows to keep the ground cool… as most things were done on the floor… the traditional polygamy for the sole pleasures of man and two separate bedrooms… the see through curtains at the bed… not to hinder the watchful eye of mother in law… the small wooden casket placed on the bed… to indicate virginity status of the bride… the ladder to the attic… for the lock-up of the bride-to-be the day before the wedding… the colourful triangles in each corner of the ceiling… because magic-spiritual believes are prevalent in Muslim village life… the separation of men and women during meal times… after the man had consumed what his wives had prepared… the women would gather to eat the leftovers… the separate steep staircase… for women to enter their chambers… to prevent male intruders from visiting… who wouldn’t manage the narrow wooden stairs… the traditional cuisine… the secrets of the blue colour in Malay food and multi functionality of banana leaves… the workings of the most amazing antique coconut scraper… the outdoor games for the boys and the indoor alternatives for girls… the latter being occupied by marble sorting and sand bag skill games… which meant to be time consuming… to facilitate girls’ sheltered destiny… the extremely tilted roof above the women’s part of the house…  concealing their whereabouts…

There was so much I don’t recall any more. It felt like we had been introduced to the secrets of Muslim traditions and were left with input overflow. Absorbing, fascinating (and shocking in parts).

Rumah Penghulu Heritage House Museum Malaysia

 

After the tour in the house, Mrs Jee Meng Jeau had postcard presents showing some interior. Fretwork detail and arch entrance to the bridal bedroom with the black virginity-indicator casket.

Rumah Penghulu Heritage House Museum Malaysia

 

Then came an extra treat. She grabbed two chairs for us and put on a video that showed how the house has been found in a small northern village by overseas conservators in a state of almost total decay, how it was dismantled, reconstructed with a lot of love to detail in Kuala Lumpur and turned into a museum. The daughters that used to live in the house were also interviewed, voicing their content over the conservation project, even if that meant house relocation and removal from their village.

Rumah Penghulu Heritage House Museum Malaysia

 

And here go the must-not-neccesarily-dos:

‘Muzium Kraf’.  It turned out, that the museum was actually a huge souvenir shop with on site workshops of local crafts folk selling their goods.

Museum of Crafts Kuala Lumpur

 

You could pick a sheet of canvas which was already stretched across the frame and had a ready painted picture outline. So the job was to do more sophisticated picture book colouring and looked like fun.

Museum of Crafts Kuala Lumpur

 

Batik painting looked tempting, so I was thinking about having a go but it wasn’t going to be.

Batik at Krafts Museum Kuala Lumpur Malaysia

 

Tourists are warmly welcome, especially if you, highly motivated to do some serious ‘batiking’, arrive over one and a half hour before closing time. You will be told that staff is very tired and that you are very welcome to come back another day. I could totally understand, regarding how busy staff was overall working at their mobile phones.

Museum of Crafts Kuala Lumpur

 

The national museum. Built in 1963 with no progress in exhibition display. You can practise positive attitude shaping while looking at musical instruments, ceramics, vintage cars and a steam locomotive. The nicest things are the front murals, the stairs and the huge entrance hall.

Kuala Lumpur National Museum

 

The entrance hall with resting attentive staff, who make sure that tourists, deeply absorbed by the exhibits, do not forget about opening hours, leading everybody out (that is us and another visitor) well in advance of closure time.

Kuala Lumpur National Museum

 

And the floor was nice, too. I bumped my head at least twice at the exhibition and probably tripped equally often on sudden changes in floor and ceiling structure.

Kuala Lumpur National Museum Kuala Lumpur National Museum

 

The show-off infidel who converted to Islam.

Kuala Lumpur National Museum

 

Tin. The reason why Kuala Lumpur flourished and why they had very cool early currency, in form of  animal sculptures, made out of tin metal in the 16th to 18th century.

Kuala Lumpur National Museum

 

Finally, the best of the National Museum: free space travel! The layman will probably not have heard about the country’s grand achievements in space. Nor the extensive confusion of 150 scientists and clerics to solve the problem of establishing Muslim prayer times and direction in space. There was little fuss with Tomek, who gladly accepted the ride, even though they made that face hole in his astronaut helmet a bit big. Rest assured, he made it back sound and safe.

Kuala Lumpur National Museum

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