We took to the road this morning to a border town south of Kuching called Serikin. The town sits on Malaysian soil but Indonesian traders are allowed to trade on its narrow streets that are thriving since it was made popular less than ten years ago by Malaysian tourists who come here by the bus loads at weekends. There were at least 100 traders I saw this morning plying their wares ranging from textiles, handicrafts, agricultural produces, clothing's and personal accessories and the very popular rattan mats. Malaysians by cultural tradition sit on rattan mat floors when they eat or entertain guests to their homes. However in modern homes the norms have changed and many adopt the western style of sitting on sofas and dining on tables. As a consequence rattan mats are instead used as decorative floor mats in modern homes. At Serikin these mats are in abundance and sold at knock down prices . A piece with a standard dimension of 7'x12' would fetch an average price of about RM 80. The size varies from a width of 2' to 10' and lengthwise can be obtained from a size of 3' till 14'.
Many interior decoration works also use rattan mats as overlay for counters, walls and ceilings. For smaller sizes having intricate design they are framed and hung on walls as decorative wall pieces. From Indonesia the mats are brought in rolls but tourists overseas and from West Malaysia who want to bring them home by air will need them folded up and packed properly as air cargo items. Rattans are versatile and don't get broken or snapped when folded .
CU of Rattan Mat Design The prevalence of rattan mats at Serikin is due to the presence of jungles that are still intact in certain parts of the Indonesian border where the rattan plants are still available. In Sarawak where much inland forests are cut for timber and oil palm plantations, the rattans are slowly disappearing unless of course drastic steps are made to grow rattans in plantations amidst the undisturbed forest canopy. Many rattan mats are interwoven with tree barks to add variety to the design and by a process of dyeing, darker hues of brown to black rattans are incorporated to the overall mat design. By the look of it Malaysians will continue to line up the streets of Serikin in droves in their insatiable appetite for these unique rattan mats .