Tuesday, May 12, 2015

National Museum of Malaysia Part 1: Galleries A and B (KL Malaysia)

Like my country's National Museum, it took me forever to visit Malaysia's "Muzium Negara" due to the misperception of its location. I knew it was located near the Lake Gardens, and I specifically remember walking from the lakes to the KL Sentral. Though a pleasant stroll, this will take a bit of an effort on a simmering summer's day. This area doesn't have trains so there's a degree of difficulty to get there if you're taking a cab; and I hate dealing with overcharging taxi drivers, the bane of my traveling life.

When I got hold of the fact that the museum is actually closer to KL Sentral than I originally thought, I decided to do a Flavier - just do it! I took a train to KL Sentral, went to the "cheap taxi queue" (the cheapest in the capital, and there's no haggling involved.) Eleven (11MR) ringgit was quoted. The driver took  couple of seconds to take it in, then stepped on the clutch. It went around the vast KL Sentral, then voila! I was there. I of course embarrassed myself after taking the shortest ride I've ever had in KL, but such is the nature of travel, i.e. you commit mistakes, you learn things, then you move on. You become a better navigator by half a notch.

The museum is housed in a two-level building designed with modern, albeit simple Malaysian architecture. Nothing to crow about, but not so bad either. I paid my 5-ringgit entrance fee (children 6 to 12 years old pay 2 ringgit).

The museum is divided into 4 galleries: Gallery A has "Early History"; Gallery B has "The Malay Kingdoms"; Gallery C has "Colonial Era"; Gallery D has "Malaysia Today" or the more contemporary history of the country. Outside are vintage cars, fishing vessels and carts; there's even a locomotive train (below), helicopter and a war tank. To the left of the building is another museum housing armaments and weapons, but this is a separate one, with a different set of entrance fees.


This post shall feature what to my mind are the more interesting displays, though this is a personal preference. Cameras are allowed, as long as you turn the flash off. There are a few things you have to look for: the monolithic stones, the 10,000-year old remains of the Perak Man; a replica of the royal throne of Perak which looks grandiose; and there's the carved representations of Java's Candi Borobodur from where Raja Suddhodhana and his Queen Maya ruled a monarchy. What has this to do with the Malay Kingdom? This monarchy was the foundation on which the Malay Kingdoms (Gallery B) of the archipelago rested. Moreover, the wall and door of the Palace of Setul (before the rule of Ku Din bin Ku Meh) is on display. It is 120 years old. There's also a statue of Hang Tuah who, before this, was just a monorail station name to the uninformed like myself. It was an interesting two hours inside this museum. Try to visit the souvenir shop for a pleasant window-shop without Central Market's touts. Second part of this post follows after.

This is the Eye in the Sky.


Rolls Royce

A Malaccan gharry.

Sekoci boat, a traditional fishing vessel popular in Terangganu used for fishing, squid jigging and fish trawling. 

Replica of the Homo erectus. Also known as the "Java Man" (it was found in Java), it's believed to be 500,000 years old.

Polished stone adze used to chop down and hollow out trees during the neolithic age.

Various types of Malaysian neolithic potteries.

The Perak Man (above and below) is considered to be the most significant discovery of the remains of the Modern Man (Homo sapiens) ever discovered in Malaysia because of 2 things: it's over 10,000 years old and its most complete anatomical state. He was buried ina  crouched position alongside stone tools and food like shells and a variety of animal meat.

The Perak Man is male, with congenital birth defect (Brachymesophalangia Type 2), an esteemed member of the community (due to full customary honors during burial) and believed to have died between 40-45 years old. The Perak Man has been classified as the predecessor of the Australo-Melanosoid race found in the Pacific Islands and Australia.

The megaliths of Pengkalan Kempas, Negeri Sembilan were found near the grave of Sheikh Ahmad Majanu who died in 1467 A.D. In this photo, we find "The Sword" and "The Rudder" named mainly due to their shapes. The word "Allah" has been carved in one, while a horse, a deer and a tiger are found in the other.

The megalithic tradition in Malaysia encompasses the use of large granite blocks shaped as menhirs, dolmens, and in slab graves. This megalithic culture is distributed within specific localities in Negeri Semblan, Melaka, the Bernam Valleys of Selangor and Perak, Sabah and Sarawak. The "menhirs" have been referred to as "living rocks" by the locals, usually erected in high grounds and in pairs, with one being larger or more dominant. Megaliths are prominent in Stonehenge. In Malaysia, they're believed to be burial sites or religious locations. 

Log cabin burials have been found in limestone caves in Sabah dated to be 1,100 years old. 

Stone slab burials are prevalent in the coastal communities the Bernam Valley of Perak. These cist graves are created with stone slabs placed on top of the other, with the head end wider than the foot end.

A seated Boddhistava carved in terracotta. 

Figure of a dancer carved in high relief found at Batu Lintang south of Kedah in 1957.

An elephant carved in terracotta found in Pengkalan Bujang. 

Head of Kala from Bujang Valley.

This gloriously royal door greets Gallery B (The Malay Kingdoms). This is the wall and door of the Palace of Setul. It was kept by Haji Wan Chah la In from from Ban Temalang, Satun, Thailand. The wall is carved with leaves and flowers, and is made of teak. The Malay state of Setul was governed by the Malay sultanate of Kedah from 1843 to 1909, when it was ceded to the Kingdom of Thailand in accordance with the Treaty of Bangkok.

Sundang, Perisai, shield.

The Royal Throne of Perak has been used during the installation of Sultan Iskandar Shah (the 30th Sultan of Perak) in 1918. This was used by his successors as well. 

this gold waist-buckle is inlaid with gemstones in a pattern of plant tendrils. The gems have been arranged in threes. This is used during royal ceremonies.

This is a 200 year old Scent Bottle. The "celepa" is the star-shaped gold tobacco box, with 10 points like the petals of an elaborate flower. It was owned by Sultan Zainal Abidin I of Terangganu. 

This golden mural depicts the story of Admiral Hang Tuah a legendary Malay warrior popular in Melaka. He is known for his bravery, loyalty to his King, gallantry, good sense, and a dashing warrior.

The Jalong Statue is a Buddha Brahmin Statue, a bronze statue discovered in 1936 in Jalong, Perak. The left hand is holding a pious object. 

Candi Borobodur has 504 stupas and a crowning one at the peak. The walls have 1,460 carved panels depicting the life of Siddhartha Gautama Buddha.

Model of the Majapahit Bahtera (ship).

The "makara" is the symbolic cohesion of the elements of the two creatures with special qualities. this makara has a fish and an elephant. 

Figure Head of a Royal Boat

From the inside of the Palace of Setul.

Two levels of the museum. I didn't notice any elevators.


Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hello greetings and good wishes.

Lovely photos and very interesting information.

Best wishes

eye in the sky said...

Thank you, Joseph.

Hayalan said...

Come visit Malay Heritage Museum at UPM Serdang Selangor, Malaysia

The uniqueness of Malay heritage collection focuses on its true identity through the exhibition of ancient Malay and religious manuscripts, high quality textile, household item and weaponry.


Unknown said...

Hi There,

I am writing to you on behalf of Malaysian Ariports to request for permission to feature our article on our client's website (FlyKLIA.com). It is a Travel portal that features various places to go and attractions.

Do advise if you are open to us featuring your article there. My email is edward.lee@mullenlowe.com should you be interested in getting in touch.


eye in the sky said...

Thanks for the invitation.