The first Chinese settlers to Sarawak, the Hakka clan, brought with them Cha Kiak, the traditional Chinese wooden clogs as on display at the Chinese farm house. The typical Sarawakian Chinese abode is a tribute to the pioneering spirit and adaptability of these hardy people. Outside the house is the pepper garden - a sight not to be missed.
Chinese farmers in Sarawak are likely to be of Hakka or Foochow descent. These hardy and frugal people migrated to Sarawak in the early 1900s, at the invitation of the Rajah who wanted to build up a solid farming middle class. Many came, most stayed; one-third of the state's population is now Chinese. The flourishing market gardens on both sides of the roads outside Kuching are almost exclusively cultivated by Hakka farmers.
Unlike local dwellings, the Chinese farm house is built at ground level. The floor is made of trodden earth, the walls of whitewashed sawn timber. The roof is thatched with leaf attap. The house is divided into two main parts; the family room which contains the kitchen, eating and living area as well as a storage area for valuables such as bicycles or agricultural machinery, and the bedroom.
One of the focal points of the main room is the household shrine. A print or statuette of the god revered by the family is displayed here, surrounded by joss sticks, candles, little cups of tea and other seasonal offerings. The doorpost is also divinely protected by the application of strips of red paper, inscribed with protection verses.
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Photos by: Alfred Molon, SCV
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