You can explore and learn abour Orang Asli’s history, their ancient customs and traditions and their social and economic development at the Muzium Orang Asli Gombak, located about 24km away from Batu Caves. The Orang Asli are the aboriginal people of Peninsular Malaysia, with an estimated population of over 60,000. They still lead a simple yet fascinating lifestyle.
Muzium Orang Asli Gombak is managed by the Orang Asli Affairs Department. The Orang Asli museum is the perfect place for you to learn the lifestyle of the tribes such as their dwellings, personal adornments, arts, costumes, musical instruments, hunting and agricultural tools, animal traps and traditional medicine.
The three-level museum building (fully air-conditioned) was completed at a cost of RM3.3mil in 1998.On the lower level is a mini-theatre where briefings are given to visiting officials and schoolchildren. It has a 100-seat and well equipped with an audio-visual system.
On entering the ground level of the Muzium Orang Asli, you will be delighted to find old photographs and insight information on the Orang Asli group. Do you know that the Orang Asli population in the Peninsular Malaysia is divided into three main ethnic groups?
They are Negrito, Senoi and Proto-Malay and further divided into six tribes each.
While you’re inside the Muzium Orang Asli, look out for a small cannon and a wireless set from the Senoi Praaq. Senoi Praaq is a term that means fighting people. It refers to the two battalions of the Police Field Force whose members are almost exclusively orang asli and were originally formed in 1957 for jungle warfare against communists.
You can also find exquisite models made of bamboo and bark dwellings, bamboo rafts and dugout canoes and utensils like long wooden spoons and forks. There is also a section in the Muzium Orang Asli displaying various hunting and fishing equipment like blowpipes, rattan squirrel traps, underground mousetraps and bamboo spears.
It’s also interesting to learn how crops are protected from pigs or wild boars by planting sharpened bamboo spikes into the ground on the inner side of fences that enclose plots of cropland. There’s a special for that at the Muzium Orang Asli.
In the arts section of the Muzium Orang Asli, you can find hand-tooled wooden sculptures from the Jah-Hut tribe in the Krau Game Reserve, Pahang and wooden facemasks made by the Mah-Meri tribe of Carey Island in Selangor.
There are also musical instruments like a two-stringed fiddle called rebab, favoured by the Proto-Malays, drums, violins, gongs and a jaw harp known as genggong, a favourite among the Temiar tribe. One special musical intstrument that may catch your interest is, the bamboo layer flutes used by the Semai and Temiar tribes to produce melodies for wooing women.
There are also authentic Orang Asli’s accessories on display such as rattan caps, bamboo combs and hairpins as well as mengkuang handbags. Look out also for the bark shirts which was a traditional clothing of deep jungle Orang Asli which is made from bark of trees.
If you go to the upper floor of the Muzium Orang Asli, you can see small models of graves and structures like the Sangkak and a Sewang house, used traditionally to treat the ill and for ceremonial events. There are also preserved traditional medicinal plants like Tongkat Ali (Eurycoma longifolia Jack) and Kacip Fatimah (Labisia pumila).
Two major sections on this floor have agricultural tools such as wooden pickaxes, antan (rice pounder) and mengkuang paddy baskets besides domestic implements such as a wooden “lighter” to start fires, a bottle gourds and bamboo cups.
There are other items such as the mengkuang baskets called changor, made by the Jakun tribe, rattan bird traps, bamboo blow pipes, traditional medicinal herbs, massage oil and honey from wild bees.
The Muzium Orang Asli also has a library which is open for students and academicians to carry out research on the Orang Asli. However, permission has to be obtained before reading material can be taken out.
There is also a small handicraft centre with items made by the Orang Asli such as masks and wooden sculptures from the Mah-Meri tribe are available for sale.
There admission is free and the visiting hours are from 9am to 5pm from Saturday to Thursday. Muzium Orang Asli is closed on Friday. For details, call 03-6189 2113 ext 216 (museum) or 03-2161 0577 (Orang Asli Affairs Department).
Muzium Orang Asli Gombak Map & Location