Mah Meri Master Carver Pion dies
Published: 11 May 2014
Pion was known for hi Harimau Berantai carving, seen in the background. But he was also a very innovative carver and could produce any carving wanted of him.
Pion anak Bumbong, the acclaimed Mah Meri master carver, died yesterday evening in Kampung Sungai Bumbun, Pulau Carey. According to his IC, he was 67 years old.
Pion was the more distinguished one in the line of elder, now all deceased, Mah Meri carvers whose work was responsible for making the carvings of the Mah Meri known internationally and locally.
He started carving in his teenage years and produced many impressive interpretations of the Mah Meri spirit world. Many of his works are now in museums and in the homes of serious collectors. His most famous creative contribution, however, is the Harimau Berantai, which is still the most challenging Mah Meri carving to produce.
About a decade ago, Pion took on the mantle of passing on the art and knowledge to the younger generation. In 2006 he was awarded the Adiguru Aneka Kraf (Master Craftsman) Award by Kraftangan Malaysia, which gave him a welcomed monthly stipend for a year.
But otherwise, Pion lived his humble life in poor settings, with all the problems faced by the other Mah Meri in his village.
When he paid our last respects last night in his humble, 8 foot-by-12 foot hut, one cannot but be ashamed as to how we treat our indigenous national treasures. Pion had lost a lot of weight in the past year, and in death he looked liked a sucked mango – all the best of him being taken out by others leaving him just the unwanted parts.
May he now rest in peace.
CN-COAC | 11 May 2014
Pion opening a coconut from his garden to give us to drink. (2003)
This is the land he lost to a golf course developer. He was heartbroken to have to give up his ancestral land. (2007)
Pion with Sagong Tasi in 2010 before going for their respective eye treatments at a private clinic in Klang. Pion moved into this hut when his land was lost. Later the hut was rebuilt with wood and zinc, but of the same size. This is where he died.
There were two things he loved more than carving: riding his motor bike (and enjoying the freedom it gives), and cigarettes. He was forced to give up the former when his health and eyesight deteriorated (and his road tax expired), but he refused to give up tobacco to the end. (2012)