Feb 2017 - Artha Wood Decor Workshop

On 13th February 2017, the Explorers' had a closer look at a typical Malay handicraft  –  woodcarving. We visited Artha Wood Décor in Gombak, a shop given from father to son, who learned woodcarving as a young child.

This woodcarving shop sells lots of different items used in a Malay house; decorations for inside and outside the house, fences, ventilation, wall panels, furniture and much more.



For the Malay people, trees and wood are not only a commodity, but is seen as one of the fundamental symbols of life, creation and nature. The Malays of the ancient past believed that there was a great ocean at the center of the world, in which a gigantic tree grew – the tree of life. The tree was magical but at the same time provided the Malays with the fortifications that protected their settlements. Wood was used for tools, to eat and fight with and was the natural element on which great parts of the Malay civilization depended.

A lot of this respect can still be seen in the wood carving elements and the effort that is needed to create the patterns, flowers and leaves. There are no figurative elements used, only abstract floral motives and patterns out of  respect for the Islamic religion.


In the Artha workshop, we saw a big carved panel approx. 80 x 100 cm  which took two weeks to carve completely. The tools can only be used for a few hours as the wood is so hard that they have to be sharpened again after this time.

The workshop produces two and three dimensional patterns. For the two  dimensional carving, a jigsaw is used to follow a drawing on the wood to create the individual designed patterns. The result can be very delicate and can be a finished product or the first step for a more elaborate carving project. The father has used some of the drawings for many years.

Above all, the items are made to order, although it is also possible to get furniture and wooden items repaired.


As a gift to all tour members, Artha Wood produced a special panel as a souvenir and a demonstration of their skills. Thank you for that, and for letting us  have a closer look at this typical Malay business and handicraft.


Written by Christine Rost

Pictures by Dori van Koesveld