Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Rumah Cina Kelantan

Saturday March 24, 2007

A marriage of traditions


The old Chinese houses of Kelantan are different from those elsewhere in that they are an interesting blend of Chinese and Malay influences.

Wee Ah Mek of Pasir Mas, Kelantan recalls her growing years in her village, Kampung Kasa, a Chinese settlement on the banks of Sungai Kelantan.

Taking a short stroll from her parent’s wooden house, she used to observe the daily bustle on the river – the “highway” of those times.

A unique abode: A typical Chinese house in Kg Kasa, Kelantan.
“I remember the Malay traders plying budu (fermented anchovy sauce), salted fish and ikan pekasam (fermented freshwater fish) as they travelled upriver in their wooden boats,” says Wee, 59, who still lives in Kasa.

“Even to get to Kota Baru (a 20-minute drive today), we needed to take the boat.”

Like many early Chinese settlers, the Chinese in Kasa were mostly farmers who reared pigs and grew vegetables. Some ventured to town and became shopkeepers, Wee adds.

A fifth-generation Chinese, Wee has only a vague idea about her family roots. According to historians, most of the early settlers hailed from China’s southern provinces of Fujian, Guangdong and Guanxi.

“My grandmother was born here and my mother still lives in the house her great grandfather built,” says Wee, a retired teacher.

Tebuk terus allow light and air in.
Today, what makes Kasa, like other early Chinese settlements in Kelantan, unique are its clusters of Chinese houses that are more than a century old. Some 4km north of Pasir Mas town, Kasa – along with two other villages, Tendong and Saka – constitute a settlement of about 600 residents. There are 50-odd Chinese settlements in Kelantan that were founded in the 1800s from Tumpat, Bachok to Gua Musang.

“I believe most of the early Chinese settlers preferred to live near the river because of its easy access since boats were the main mode of transport,” says Wee.

What makes it Chinese?

At first glance, the 15-odd old houses scattered along a leafy, tree-lined road next to the riverbank look like traditional Kelantanese Malay houses. On closer look, one notices that these houses are, in fact, an interesting blend of Chinese and Malay influences.

The serambi.
This new style was a departure from the practices of early immigrants in Straits Settlements like Malacca and Penang, who built their temples and clan houses according to “pure” Chinese models. Chinese houses are always firmly rooted to the ground, with the floors made from compacted mud or cement.

“I think houses on stilts are practical as the river gets flooded during the monsoon season,” explains Wee, who now lives with her family in a double-storey brick house

Some of these old houses were constructed from cengal (Balanocarpus heimii), a hardwood known for its durability, and stood on stilts and sported high-pitched roofs laid with clay tiles.

“The distinct curved roof ridge signifies their Chinese background and Chinese temple design influence. Roof design, traditionally, reflects the owner’s origin,” says design consultant Azzaha Ibrahim of Tumpat, Kelantan.

An architecture graduate from University Technology Malaysia (UTM), Azzaha has been researching traditional Kelantanese architecture for 11 years. His subjects include the wakaf (shelters), Chinese tokong(temples), mosques, and Malay and Chinese houses.

“What’s special about these curved ridges is that local craftsmen now lack the know-how to construct something similar,” says Azzaha, who did the blueprints for four vernacular Chinese houses in Kota Baru and Bachok, including a 120-year-old house in Tumpat.

Chinese houses have tree trunks as rafters.
Like the early East Coast Malay houses, the roofs of these houses are covered in singhorra tiles (clay tiles of Thai origin). A bad heat conductor, these handmade tiles keep the house cool and its irregular shapes allow air to flow through the gaps. But the wafer-thin tiles crumble easily and aren’t cheap. One shingle costs about RM1.50, and you need at least RM600 worth of tiles just to cover a small pavilion, Azzaha adds.

Another Chinese feature is the long, projecting eaves with roof “brackets” which transfer the weight of the roof onto the columns. These brackets are characteristic of traditional Chinese houses and temples in South-East Asia. And the roof runners are round (using a tree trunk) rather than square planks, as found in a traditional Malay house, Azzaha adds.

Basic layout

Similar to the typically rectangular plan of a traditional Chinese house, the Kasa house features a jemuran (outer covered veranda), which flanks a wooden or brick staircase. This leads to a wide serambi(covered veranda) that runs along the front of the house. From the veranda, you pass a doorway into the inner main hall, which also serves as a prayer space and is flanked by bedrooms.

The kitchen is usually an extension to the side of the main house.

“What I find interesting about these Chinese houses are its simple forms – the softly curved roof ridge, its sturdy proportions because it sits low on the stilts, and the sideway-view, which looks like a Malay house,” says Azzaha, 32.

Tiny windows in the panelled walls helped people in the olden days spot Japanese soldiers from afar.
“From the order of the spaces, you get an idea of the homeowner’s religious beliefs, protocols and way of life. For example, if you’re an acquaintance, you are greeted at the jemuran, while family and close friends occupy the serambi all day till bedtime,” explains Azzaha, who likes infusing traditional elements into his own designs.

While these Chinese homes always have a dedicated space for the prayer altar, a Malay house does not have a specific room for this.

The Malay elements

Teyun Tang Choon looking out a window.
One of the Kasa houses we dropped in at belonged to Teyun Tang Choon and his wife Ang Mek Leng, both in their 70s. Ang inherited the house from her father who was a tukang rumah (house builder). He built the house in 1941 with the help of a Malay craftsman. Her father, a “repository” of Kasa’s history, passed away four years ago at the age of 93.

Intricate carvings of floral designs above the house’s front wall panels (called jejala or sisip angin) allow the sun’s rays to filter into the house and for air to circulate and cool the interior – a distinct feature in traditional Malay houses. Such carvings usually indicate the owner’s financial status, Azzaha explains.

Like the Malay house, these houses were constructed using very few nails, mostly with timber panels being slotted into grooved frames.

The dinding janda berhias (two panels supported by one panel below) wall is similar to the Malay house but generally Chinese walls have bigger and thicker panels and are well proportioned in relation to the overall size of the house, Azzaha says.

All the Kasa houses sport a main door flanked by two tiny windows, a typical feature of traditional Chinese houses in China.

“During World War II and the Japanese Occupation, we would peek through the tiny windows and escape through the back door if we saw Japanese soldiers entering the front yard,” says Teyun.

Over the years, many Kasa residents have either renovated their houses, added extensions, or torn down the old structure and built brick houses. Some, though, dismantled their old house and moved it elsewhere, as one of Wee’s cousins did.

“People aren’t keen to preserve these old houses because it’s expensive to maintain. You need to change the wooden planks that have rotted away,” Wee sums up.

Researching these old Chinese houses has been an uphill task for Azzaha. Most people are either clueless or they give inconsistent information, Azzaha says.

“But these houses, their history and architecture, reflect how the Chinese and Malay communities used to live in harmony and were very well integrated,” say Azzaha.

“When the houses are gone, so too will that marriage of traditions.”

A blend of cultures

When the first Chinese settlers arrived in Kelantan hundreds of years ago, they found a colourful culture dominated by the Malays and Siamese. Naturally, the settlers adopted some of the local customs, language and clothing. Even their Hokkien dialect came to be sprinkled with Thai and Malay words.

“Like the Kelantanese Malays, the Chinese use pet names like Awang for boys, and Mek for girls in the family. Some Chinese actually use these names in their identity card, like Mek Su or Tan Awang,” says Wee Ah Mek of Pasir Mas, Kelantan.

Apart from being fluent in the Kelantanese dialect, the rural Chinese here also take up traditional Malay performing arts like wayang kulit anddikir barat, which are performed at Chinese temples during the birthday celebration of its patron God. They also enjoy traditional Malay pastimes like top-spinning and kite-flying.

“Though we live in a village surrounded by Malay villages, we don’t feel like we’re different from our Malay neighbours. Perhaps, the only difference is they don’t eat pork,” says Koh Gim Tat, 75, of Kg Pasir Parit in Pasir Mas district.

A fourth generation Chinese, Koh says her family initally settled in Kg Kasa before moving upstream. Traditionally, the rural settlers engaged in agriculture, planting padi, tobacco, fruits and such.

“If we hold a Chinese wedding, we would have a kenduri for our Malay friends the day before the Chinese banquet,” adds Koh. And like their Malay neighbours, the Chinese love delicacies like nasi berlauknasi ulam budu and nasi kerabu.

But as with the old Chinese houses that are beginning to fall apart or get torn down, the unique hybrid culture of Kelantan’s Chinese is slowly vanishing.

“Most parents send their kids to Chinese schools and the younger generation can hardly speak the Kelantanese dialect now,” says Wee. “The Chinese youth today just isn’t as well-integrated with the Malays as my generation used to be.”

Cina Kelantan

Keunikan Cina Natif Kelantan


Ahad lalu, aku berkesempatan bertandang ke perkampungan Cina Natif Kelantan di Kg Pasir Parit, Bukit Panau, Tanah Merah. Rombongan disambut dengan ceria oleh tuan rumah Mek Keong, 74 tahun . Lawatan ini bagi meninjau dan melihat keunikan cina Kelantan yang berada dalam asakan dunia moden sekarang. Rombongan ini dibawa oleh Penghulu Yap Kok Seng sebagai “orang tengah” bagi kami.

picture-138.jpgMek lebih mesra dipanggil “mak” ini menceritakan sejarah dan asal usul Cina Kelantan. Menurut beliau, kaum cina di Kelantan terbahagi kepada dua jenis. Pertama Cina Peranakan dan keduanya, Cina Bandar. Orang Melayu memanggil mereka Cina kampung, Cina Kelantan atau Orang Cina kita.

Bagi Cina di bandar, mereka dipanggil Cina benua atau Cina Bandar manakala masyarakat Thai di Kelantan menggelar mereka sebagai Cina Darat, Cina Kampung atau Cina Kelantan.

picture-146.jpgCina Peranakan atau Cina Peribumi ini mempunyai ciri-ciri yang membezakan mereka dengan Cina bandar dan kaum tionghua yang biasa kita temui. Keunikan mereka ini wujud kerana berlakunya asimilasi budaya antara Cina, Melayu dan Siam.

Menurut huraian dalam Wikipedia, budaya mereka dibahagikan kepada dua iaitu “Fronstage” dan “Backstage”. Frontstage bermaksud pengamalan dan gelagat mereka di dalam masyarakat di luar rumah. Mereka bercakap dialek Kelantan sesama mereka, bercucuk tanam, berbual di anjung, memakai kain pelikat bagi lelaki, dan memakai kain batik bagi kaum wanita. Ada juga yang berkelubung kepala jika keluar rumah. Cina Peranakan ini juga memakan budu dan ulam-ulaman. Nama mereka juga menggunakan nama Melayu seperti Gan Awang, Tan Awang Besar, Lau Cheng San atau Che Hassan, Che Midah, Mek Su dan nama-nama lain mencerminkan bagaimana proses asimilasi telah merubah dan membentuk budaya tersendiri di kalangan masyarakat tempatan.

Manakala Backstage pula ialah gelagat dan budaya mereka jika berada dalam rumah. Ini bermaksud, mereka masih lagi mengekalkan budaya Cina seperti sembahyang, adat perkahwinan dan juga upacara pengkebumian. “Hisham, kalau demo nok tahu cara kaum Cino nok semaye, demo kelih lagu mano Cino Kelate semaye. Cino Bandar tu semaye dah guna shortcut doh, Kiro semaye hokk sebenar ialah sepertimano cina di kampung semaye”, ujar saudara Yap Kok Seng kepada aku. aku tersenyum…”rupanya sembahyang pun ada shortcut jugak ke?” jampuk aku dan diikuti dengan hilai ketawa semua yang ada.

picture-116.jpgSenibina yang ada seperti rumah asal Cina Peranakan Kelantan juga amat unik dan menarik. Rekabentuk, jenis kayu, malah ukiran yang dipahatkan adalah seni Melayu. Cuma tulisan kaligrafi Cina sahaja yang mempunyai ciri ke”Cina”an menghiasi ruang tamu dan anjung. Namun, kesenian dan kehalusan senibina ini kian mereput kerana tiada usaha pemuliharaan dilakukan, Menurut penghulu di mukim ini, sebenarnya Kuam Cina Peranak mempunyai persatuan yang ditubuhkan pada 1987. Antara cadangan yang dikemukakan kepada pihak kerajaan ialah mewujudkan sebuah Muzium Cina Peranakan Kelantan. Harapan mereka, semoga dengan wujudnya satupicture-165.jpg muzium khas boleh menjadi bahan tatapan generasi akan datang.

picture-181.jpgMenurut cerita “mak” ini, beliau juga mengatakan bahawa generasi pertama yang datang ke Tanah Melayu bermula di Kelantan, dan bukan di Melaka. Buktinya, terdapat sebuah patung lama Ma Chor Bew di tokong Sui Yek Khong di Pulai, Gua Musang. Patung ini yang dikesan berasal dari zaman Dinasti Ming yang memerintah Negeri China antara 1368 sehingga 1644.

Di Kelantan sahaja, ada 24 tokong dengan tokong tertua berusia 600 tahun dikesan di Kampung Pulai, Gua Musang, dan tokong 300 tahun di Kampung Tokong, Kemubu.

Aku melontarkan beberapa persoalan, bagaimana dengan generasi muda sekarang? Adakah mereka masih utuh dengan budaya generasi terdahulu? “Mak” merenung jauh sebelum member jawapan. “Generasi baru sekarang makin jauh dengan amalan generasi kami. Antara yang kian pupus ialah menari ronggeng, opera cina dan sebagainya. Anak muda sekarang tidak lagi suka pakai kain pelikat, makan sireh. Warisan kami akan pupus.” Ujar beliau dengan nada sebak.

Merenung nasib generasi akan datang…

Perbualan kami tamat di situ. Aku membuat kesimpulan bahawa, Cina Peranakan yang menebal dengan pengamalan budaya Cina Tradisonal juga terhakis dengan arus kemodenan. Selain dari serangan globalisasi, kepupusan budaya ini berlaku dengan beberapa faktor. Faktor penghijrahan ke Bandar dan perkahwinan campur turut menyumbang kepada kepupusan ini. Bagi, Kementerian Kebudayaan, Kesenian dan Warisan, intai-intailah ke Kelantan. Berilah perhatian dalam mengekalkan monument dan senibina unik ini di Kelantan. Mungkin pelaburan ini lebih tinggi nilainya daripada memberikan peruntukan berjuta ringgit dengan majlis tarian di Padang Merdeka!


8 Responses to “Keunikan Cina Natif Kelantan”

  1. afanSeptember 19, 2007 at 3:09 am

    Great my fren. Pictures with thousand of words. Mcm mana la agaknya rupa orang lelaki cina pakai kain pelikat ye

  2. orang UKMSeptember 20, 2007 at 4:47 pm

    salam… menarik juga kisah tentang orang cina kampung di kelantan ni, anta boleh jadi wartawan nampak gayanya…
    pesanan buat mu : Selamat menyambut Ramadhan..

  3. LC FangOctober 13, 2007 at 11:29 pm

    Sejarah Cina Kelantan memang menarik, macam Melaka jugak di mana kain sarong dan pelikat cukup sinonim. Yang bezanya ialah Cina Kelantan mempunyai hubungan yang akrab dengan Melayu, tidak hairanlah ada antara mereka dipanggil dengan nama Melayu.Di kampung, rumah mereka sebijik macam rumah Melayu, tempat tokong yang kelihatan di luar rumah saja yang membezakannya. Tapi sayang, tinjauan anda tidak meliputi kegiatan budaya mereka, anda pasti kagum dan tidak percaya apabila melihat mereka berdikir barat,malah mempunyai tok dalang yang cukup gah dalam kumpulan pemain wayang kulit,juga pembuat patung atak wayang kulit. Namun, segala keunikan itu menuju kelupusan berikutan arus permodenan, tambahan pula tiada usaha terancang oleh kerajaan untuk memuliharanya. Saya tidak nampak sejauh mana Persatuan Peranakan Cina Kelantan boleh berbangga dengan keunikan yang diwarisi kerana ia jelas terhakis secara cukup ketara.

  4. sampunaOctober 31, 2007 at 11:30 am

    good research! sat ni jemput research pulaq peranakan Pulau Pinang ye!- i’m part peranakan!

  5. azrimiFebruary 20, 2008 at 9:00 pm

    kalau boleh ceritakan bagaimana proses asimilasi ni terjadi dikalangan orang cina di kelantan contohnya adakah melalui sektor ekonomi, politik ataupun pergaulan yang baik antara penduduk setempat.

  6. shukryMarch 7, 2008 at 10:26 pm

    salam ceria…
    keunikan masyarakat cina dikelantan ini memang tak dapat dinafikan… saya berasal dikawasan yangmana terdapat masyarakat cina di kelantan…keramahan dan kehidupan kami semua boleh dikatakan sama dalam aspek makanan, pakaian, pekkerjaan, mengisi masa lapang dan lain-lain. saya juga mempunyai ramai kawan darikalangan masyarakat cina kelantan ini bermula daripada zaman pra sekolah sehinggalah kini…main wau, menangkap ikan, pelihara burung puyuh menjadi kegemaran kami sewaktu kecil… walaupaun dari kaum yang berbeza namun kami tetap kawan yang baik….

    kepada mereka yang ingin datang ke kelantan tijaun dan dekatilah masyarakat ini untukl mendengar cara percakapan mereka dan keunikan masyarakat ini di kelantan… semoga kami dikelantan akan sentiasa berada dalam keadaan aman dan selesa selamanya….

  7. BEEMarch 17, 2008 at 10:58 am

    klo ade mase, dtg la ke kelantan lagi pastu tanye psl bahase plak..

  8. abemat011January 23, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    Tergerak juga nak bagi komen tentang Cina Kelantan ni. Jelas
    dan tepat sekali apa yang ditulis oleh penulis dan komen2 yang diberikan oleh rakan2 semua. Dari zaman budak hingga ke zaman tua masih kekal menjalani persahabatan. Si kawan saya tu sekarang dahjadi penulis/pengarang terkenal dan Prof di UPM. Kalau dia uction di Sabah di cari kawannya ini. Pesahabatan abadi. Selamat tahun baru Cina untuk kawan lamaku…Dr.lim swee Tin


  9. zubin MohamadMay 26, 2009 at 11:05 pm

    Salam sejahtera, saya nak pinjam gambar dari blog ni untuk kajian, saya juga nak ambik tulisan dari blog ni, nanti kita linkkan kerana tulisan ni baik sekali untuk dikongsi bersama kawan2 saya. kebetulan kita baru saja ada buat event kat KB di Kampung Cina Kota Bharu dua minggu lalu. Kebetulan saya juga mendapat pusaka rumah Cina kelantan, tetapi cuma tinggal tapaknya saya bersama rangka rumah, saya cuba nak re-construct kembali. Mungkin saudara mereka juga sudah berada di mana2. Ibu saya yang juga seorang peniaga kecil membeli dan menjual barang kemas membeli rumah Cina kelantan kepunyaan seorang tukang emas di Kota Bharu sekitar tahun 1991/92.