Meet the Bamboo Weavers of Sabah


Bamboo craft maker, Emily Jeneble

What is more important than a dear-to-heart craft making skill that was passed down from generation to generation? In this century, craft makers are hard to find because of its precise skill set.

Hailing from Kampung Batu Lunguyan, Keningau, Emily Jeneble has about 20 years of experiences of  making handicrafts from poring bamboo. When she was young, she would observe her grandmother weaving the sirung and buk-buk. That was how she built an interest in bamboo weaving. At the same time, Emily’s mother who has been producing these handicrafts for about 50 years now, was the one who taught and passed down the weaving knowledge and skills to the Emily and her siblings.

To find and harvest poring bamboo is not easy because it only grows in certain areas such as Kampung Batu Lunguyan, Keningau; Tenom, and Tambunan. According to Emily, only matured bamboo can be selected to produce these bamboo products. The bamboo skins have to be sliced carefully then dyed with desired colours according to its design. Next, the bamboo is dried completely before continuing with the weaving process in order to prevent damages while weaving.

Sabah traditional motif tells of the origins of the community. Adding traditional motifs of the Dusun tribe to the bags will certainly highlight the Sabah culture and a unique product. The handmade bag requires seaming techniques such as anyaman lipan, mata punai, ikatan saling kawa, or ikatan tulang belut. The handicrafts also feature a mix of materials such as PVC, leather, and canvas.

The weaving process is carried out in Handicraft Center Workshop at Kampung Batu Lunguyan which offers job opportunities for women in the village.

Kampung Batu Lunguyan Achievements:

  • The products of Kampung Batu Lunguyan have been accredited by UNESCO “Seal of Excellence for Handicraft Products in South East Asia. UNESCO-AHPADA 2003.” This recognition is assessed in terms of subtlety, uniqueness and product design.
  • In 2017, Kampung Batu Lunguyan was selected as the first Kraf Kampung Ku (KKK) project in Sabah organised by Kraftangan Malaysia. Kraf Kampung Ku is an initiative of the Malaysian Handicraft Development Corporation to develop a local community under one district, one industry (SDSI) program. It is closely related to the unique product, history, culture, and identity of a place. Through the program, bamboo-crafted products are re-branded and will further enhance production and marketing especially to bamboo craft entrepreneurs to continue to succeed, strengthen, and continue to produce more quality craft products.
  • First place in One District, One Industry Showcase 2009 – Craft Category by Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI), Malaysia.
  • First place in One District, One Industry Showcase 2009 – Sabah State Level by Ministry of Industrial Development (MID) Sabah, Malaysia.

Emily’s Achievement:

  • 2008: 2nd Place in handicraft product competition in Keningau.
  • 2009: 3rd Place  in handicraft product competition in Keningau.
  • 2012: First place in handicraft competition during the opening of Keningau handicraft Center, Sabah organised by Yayasan Sabah.
  • 2015: 2nd place of craft product competition in conjunction with National Craft Day 2015 for bamboo woven contemporary bag stitching products.

Among the bamboo wicker products: