Muzium Warisan Melayu (Malay Heritage Museum) is an interesting museum located within the campus of University Putra Malaysia (UPM) at Serdang, just south of Kuala Lumpur.
The museum, which was opened in April 2012, showcases the unique culture of the Malay people and contains a valuable collection of items, some of which I have not seen in other museums in Malaysia.
I was guided by a knowledgeable intern from the University who pointed out the main items of interest and helped me understand the labelling of the exhibits which are all in Bahasa.
The treasures on display here include:
These include handwritten religious manuscripts of Quranic verses, writings on navigation used by early Malay mariners, medical documents, mathematical formulae and manuscripts relating to weaponry and the production of metal blades. These are mostly written in beautifully inscribed Jawi text and many date back hundreds of years.
Some rare woven fabrics are exhibited here, including limar which used to be made exclusively for the royals but which nobody alive today knows how to make, according to my guide. There is also cindai made from fibre infused with medicinal herbs. Malaysia’s famous hero Hang Jebat was said to have been wrapped in this cloth after having been stabbed by Hang Tuah and the curative properties of the cloth enabled him to survive the wound.
Clothing & Accessories
Traditional men’s, women’s and children’s Malay clothing and headdresses are shown together with belts, buckles, jewellery and other accessories.
The museum has an excellent kris collection and my guide explained the method for using the long, straight dagger reserved for cases of adultery, which still bore the blood stains of an unfortunate victim. The guide also demonstrated how a kris can be stood on its tip thanks to its perfect balance and craftsmanship.
There is a good collection of imported crockery and glassware, from England and Holland, made specially for the Malay market with decorations in Jawi script and with Malay motifs.
An unusual item is the Gobek Api, an ingenious type of fire lighter which uses friction and compression to produce a spark. It was unique to the Malay world and was in use long before the West invented matches and cigarette lighters.
In the grounds of the museum are 4 traditional Malay houses which are around 100 years old. They come from different states around Malaysia and have been reassembled here. Each has its own distinctive architectural style. Visitors can go inside these old wooden homes and look around (shoes off of course)
Definitely worth a visit.
Since this is still a relatively new museum, it is likely that more exhibits will be added over time.
The museum is open daily from 10am to 5pm. For Saturday visits advance booking is required.
Currently admission is RM 2.
Faculty of Modern Languages and Communications
University Putra Malaysia
43400 Sedang, Selangor
Tel: 03-8946 8939
Fax: 03-8943 9951