Boats, Boatbuilding and Fishing in Malaysia

Reprint 27
Boats, Boatbuilding and Fishing in Malaysia
Edited by Dato' H.S. Barlow
411pp. Size: 184x260mm. Hardcover

Shortly before his death in 1994, the late Tan Sri Mubin Sheppard had been working on a compendium of articles on Malayan native vessels and fishing. For reasons undisclosed by the editor but which may well be inferred, there had been a not inconsiderable delay in producing this volume since the death of its original editor. The long-anticipated collection finally appeared as a handsome hardbound volume of about 400 pages in 2009, an initiative borne out of the diligent efforts of the MBRAS' Hon. Treasurer Dato' Henry Sackville Barlow. Never before has so much been gathered and written about Malayan boats, boat building and the old, forgotten methods of fishing, many of which are no longer extant today. Had it not been for the foresight of scholars such as the inimitable Dr. C.A. Gibson-Hill (1911-1963) who has written extensively on this obscure but nonetheless significant aspect of Malayan culture, much of these priceless information would have vanished altogether. Dr. Gibson-Hill's articles alone are probably worth the price of the entire volume itself, every one of them a sparkling gem written in his characteristically relaxed style that is both charming and picturesque.

The native boats described here in exhaustive detail such as the 'kolek', 'bedar', 'wangkang', 'perahu Bugis' evoke a sense of nostalgia, carrying the reader back to the times when they used to traverse the length and breadth of the Malayan Archipelago, transporting cargoes and people before modern vessels running on fuel and steam gradually squeezed them out of existence. The sheer variety and types of boats used in the Malayan Archipelago, much of which are discussed in detail in several articles, are consistent with the various nations in the Malayan Archipelago belonging to a maritime civilisation. However, in the present day it is easy to forget that the Malays were a maritime people, with strong links to the sea etched indelibly in their psyche. A thorough reading of the articles collected here would substantiate these observations.

This unique volume comes with numerous photographs and diagrams showing the various types of boats and fishing implements used throughout the ages. Of particular interest are the assorted photographs taken by Gibson-Hill - himself an enthusiastic photographer - of which some 18 of them are reproduced here, showing the fisherfolk along with various seascape and riverine scenes of pre-Independence Malaya. This collection also includes a short article on Malay superstitious practices as regards the sea written by Ishak Ahmad (1886-1968), former Senior Fisheries Officer and father to controversial politician Abdul Aziz Ishak (1913-1999), former Singapore President Yusof Ishak (1910-1970) and former Singapore minister Abdul Rahim Ishak(1925-2001).

Abbot, W.L. (1907) Bark Canoes among the Jakuns and Dyaks JSBRAS 49:109-110
Dalton, H. Goring (1926) Some Malay Boats and Their Uses JMBRAS 4(2): 1192-197
Gibson-Hill, C.A. (1941) A Note on rhe Christmas Island Canoe (Kolek) JMBRAS 19(1): 125-130
Ishak bin Ahmad (1941) Malay Fishermen's Supersitions JMBRAS 19(1): 131-136
Gibson-Hill, C.A. (1949) Cargo Boats of the East Coast of Malaya JMBRAS 22(3): 106-125
Gibson-Hill, C.A. (1950a) The Indonesian Trading Boats reaching Singapore JMBRAS 23(1): 108-138
Gibson-Hill, C.A. (1950b) The Racing Jong JMBRAS 23(10): 144-148
Gopinath, K. (1950) The Malayan Purse Seine (Pukat Jerut) Fishery JMBRAS 23(3): 75-96
Gibson-Hill, Dr. C.A. (1950c) The Fishing Boats Operated from Singapore Island JMBRAS 23(3): 148-170
Gibson-Hill, C.A. (1951) A Note on the Small Boats of the Rhio and Lingga Archipelago JMBRAS 24(1):121-132
Gibson-Hill, C.A. (1952a) Tongkang and Lighter Matters JMBRAS 25(1) 84-110
Gibson-Hill, C.A. (1952b) Further Notes on the Old Boat Foubd at Pontian in Southern Pahang JMBRAS 25(1): 111-133
Gibson-Hill, C.A. (1952c) The Orang Laut if Singapore River and the Sampan Panjang JMBRAS 25(1): 161-174
Gibson-Hill, C.A. (1952d) A Possible Origin of the Jong Stories JMBRAS 25(1): 177-178
Gibson-Hill, C.A. (1953) The Origin of the Trengganu Perahu Pinas JMBRAS 26(1):206-210
Fitch, F.H. (1953) Dusun boats an the Segana Riverm North Borneo JMBRAS 26(1): 211-212
Burdon, T.W. (1954) The Fishing Methods of Singapore JMBRAS 27(2): 5-76
Parry, M.L. (1954) The Fishing Methods of Trengganu and Kelantan JMBRAS 27(2): 78-144
Gibson-Hill, C.A. (1954) The Boats of Local Origin Employed in the Malayan Fishing Industry JMBRAS 27(2): 145-174
Alfred, E.R. (1986) The Pulau Brani Jong JMBRAS 59(2): 133-138
Aldred, E.R. (1987) Boats of Singapore JMBRAS 60(2): 99-114
Longuet, Rohani Update on Boats and Boat Building in Estuary of the Trengganu River, 1972-2005

Photographs from Gibson-Hill (1949 and 1952)
Appendix I: Glossary of Malay, Kadazan & Chinese Words
Appendix II: Malay Names of Salt-water Fish

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