No doubt the most iconic gures – from Selangor state – and just a hop, skip and jump from Kuala Lumpur, the Mah Meri tribe are renowned for their culture, intrigue and ethnicity. You’ll see them at several key events during ITB Berlin this year, and they were the “stars” of the of cial “hand-over” ceremony on the nal day of ITB 2018.
Mah Meri (meaning “jungle man”) is a group of indigenous people or “orang asli” living on Carey Island, about 28km south of the city of Klang in Selangor state. There are five Mah Meri villages on Carey Island with total population about 4,000. Mah Meri is indeed a subgroup of the Senoi ethnic group of indigenous people in Malaysia. Senoi are generally found in the central part of the Malaysian peninsular, and are believed to have come originally from Yunnan via Southern Thailand around 10,000 years ago.
Also known as the “Mask Men of Malaysia” due to their wood carving skills, the tribe still preserves age- old heritage and culture. They are thought by many to be among the best mask- makers in the world. Still practicing anismism, it can be noted that most of their wood carvings features animistic characters; one of the factors that contributed to the works receiving the UNESCO Seal of Excellence. And while the men are highly skilled in wood sculpting, the women have exceptional abilities in the art of leaf origami.
Mah Meri sculptures depict how a person or an animal became a symbol to be worshiped by the tribe. The sculptures are created to replace something that has been destroyed, as they believe that everything, whether living or inanimate, has a spirit. Each carving is crafted from nyireh batu trees, which can be found in mangrove swamps.
Hall 26a / Stand 117