|Saturday, May 27, 2017

‘Bamboo coin banks’ bring back memories 

ALOR SETAR, Mar 20: Ahmad Saad’s bamboo coin banks is certainly one of the more eye-catching finds at Pasar Karat Kampung Berjaya, near Alor Setar.

The 78-year-old, better known as Pak Long, has been making and selling bamboo coin banks since five years ago.

There is high demand for his craft in the market that is known for antique items.

“It all started after I decided to cut down several groves of bamboo in front of my house. I ended up with 300 stalks.

“I thought that it would be a waste to just dispose of them. So I started making coin banks out of them for fun, and ended up with 20. I managed to sell them all, to my surprise, and people started placing orders for more,” Ahmad told Bernama when met, recently.

PLENTY OF ORDERS

Today, the septuagenarian can sell up to 200 units of bamboo coin banks at the market, which opens every Friday from 9am to noon.

“When they are made to order, I could be looking at a sale of between 300 and 1,000 units a week,” he said.

His customers are not just individuals but are sometimes traders and corporate bodies as well.

Ahmad’s fully handmade coin banks are available in sizes ranging from XS to XXXL and are priced between RM3 and RM15.

He sources the bamboo used to make the coin banks from several places around Kodiang.

THORNY BAMBOO

Ahmad, the sole maker and seller of bamboo coin banks at the market, explained that the selection of bamboo type was crucial to the crafting process.

He only uses the matured stalks of the thorny bamboo variety. This is because they are hardier, does not easily fracture or become susceptible to pests.

In addition to that, the grain lines of thorny bamboos look even more attractive after it is polished.

He pays several people to source the bamboo and cut them to size.

“The cleaning and polishing processes are done by my two wives, Hajama Midin, 60, and Azizah Hamid, 48. I would do the rest, from the crafting to the varnishing.

“With the three of us pooling our efforts, we are able to finish up to 100 coin banks a day,” he said.

Ahmad’s handicraft is today sold not only in Kedah but Terengganu, Kuala Lumpur and even Johor.

TEACHING KIDS TO SAVE

A customer, Nuraina Ismail, 34, said that she bought the coin banks to teach her two children to save.

“Traditional bamboo coin banks are stronger in structure when compared to the typical ceramic or plastic coin banks.

“More importantly, my children would be more disciplined when it comes to saving, because whatever they save in the bamboo coin bank can only be taken out after it becomes full,” she said.

Khalid Isa, 44, said that saving money in a bamboo coin bank brought back memories of his childhood.

“I used bamboo coin banks when I was younger because it was cheap and hardy. When I look at these coin banks made by Pak Long, it reminded me of a time in my childhood when my siblings and I raced to fill up our own coin banks.

“The fun was the most during Hari Raya. We would cut open our coin banks and count how much we had saved up inside,” he said.

— Bernama