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The Tompok Topoh Mah Meri Women First Weave Initiative

Among the NGO-recipients of the Trust Fund from the Regional Network of Indigenous Peoples in Southeast Asia (RNIP) is the Tompok Topoh group women group based in Pulau Carey, Selangor, Malaysia. The all-women group was formed three years ago starting from fifteen members has now a membership of 17. The group was established to preserve the traditions and heritage of the Mah Meri, to introduce these to the outside society, to pass on to their children the heritage passed down from their ancestors, and to look for additional income.

The project Tompok Topoh implemented through the RNIP Trust Fund is the promotion and enhancement of weaving as a way of perpetuating this heritage to their members and to enhance this indigenous knowledge to augment their income. The women have a ‘weaving hut’ where members can go after doing their household chores. They converge at this place and with their materials weave individually, teach and learn from each other in the process. One of their members is an elderly lady who acts as their mentor in weaving. They also bring their children, so the place doubles as a nursery and playground. It also provides early exposure of the kids to weaving.

The Mah Meri women have established a mengkuang (Pandanus sp) plantation of around 1000 plants to ensure the supply of raw materials for their weaving in the future. They have experimented with different dyes to improve the quality and marketability of their produce. The sales of woven products increased to an average income of RM250 per month per member from RM150 in the past. They regard this as a significant contribution to their household income. They are trying to expand their markets by having sales and product demonstration in other place outside their community. They also have cultural performances where they showcase their culture and their products.

The visible activities of Tompok Topoh stimulated the local government in Pulau Carey to do something for them. The local government in the area provided funds for the construction of a building beside the group’s ‘weaving hut’ for the group’s use. The facility has complete electrical and water systems. The group was also provided another building as a display area for their finished products.

The Mah Meri Women First Weave Initiative of Tompok Topoh is assisted by the Centre for Orang Asli Concerns (COAC). Tompok Topoh is led by Ms. Maznah Unyan.


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