The island of Bangka is very rich in culture. This fact reflects on many aspects. You can see it on the old buildings around the islands where the architectural style were highly influenced by many customs. You can also visit several heritage villages where you can find the descendants of certain outsider race. You can also taste the cultures through the various cuisines they have. And the last thing, you can see it from the traditional art crafts they make.

There are many kinds of traditional art and craft products in Bangka. These products are very unique as you can see the cultural heritage and even the history of Bangka on them. You can use them as decorations, collections, or even as gifts for friends and family. To buy them, you can simply visit gift shops available around the island. For more unique shopping experience, you can also visit the producer’s place to see the production process. Here are some of the most popular traditional arts and crafts from Bangka Island:

Cual Cloth

Cual Cloth is a traditional cloth fabric from Bangka. This hand-made product is a developed variant of Songket Cloth or Tenun Ikat Cloth. It is a woven textile made from silk or cotton thread. Sometimes, silver or golden threads are also used as variations to make the cloth looks more sophisticated. The weaving process of Cual Cloth is supposed to be done manually. But nowadays, you can find several products of this that are fabricated. The patterns of Cual Cloths are various. It is mostly floral and geometric but sometimes you can also find some with animal patterns.

Various Patterns and Colors in Cual Cloths (Source: Credit: Supriyadi)
Various Patterns and Colors in Cual Cloths
(Source: Credit: Supriyadi)

According to history, the cloth was only allowed to wear by royal family to show their social status. But as time went by, the cloth gradually became available for common people. They mostly wear the cloth for special occasions such as wedding, religious events, or traditional rituals. But nowadays, Cual Cloths can also be worn as modern clothes for daily use.

The tradition of weaving the Cual Cloth was estimated to start in 17th century, during the era of Sriwijaya Empire. The process of weaving is quite unique and complicated as everything should be processed manually. To watch and learn about it, you can visit the old town of Muntok. Muntok is believed to be origin place where this product was actually from.

Cual Cloth is well known for its soft texture. The pattern looks alive and realistic. This is why this cloth is considered as a great piece of art. The price of Cual Cloth may range, depending on several aspects such as how traditional the production was, how soft and detailed it was made, how good the quality of material is, how beautiful the pattern is, and how long did it take to produce. The cheapest one you can buy is about $4. And the most expensive one can be more than $1000.

Cual Cloth as Everyday Wear (Source: Credit: Yudhy Puspita)
Cual Cloth as Everyday Wear
(Source: Credit: Yudhy Puspita)

Pewter Crafts

The island of Bangka has been famous for its tin mining business for centuries. It began in 17th century when the land is ruled under the Palembang Sultanate. At that era, local Bangka people used to mine the tin and process them with traditional method. The business grew and changed significantly bigger when the land was overtaken by the Dutch colonials on the next century. Modern factory and international exports were done, causing the business to be very famous in the world.

After Indonesia earned their Independence, the land was not ruled by the Dutch anymore. But the tin mining business continued. Even until today, tin is still a significant commodity of the island. Around the island, you can find many local people produce and sell crafts made from tins. This profession was mostly practiced from one generation to their descendants.

A Man is Scrubbing the Pewter (Source: Credit: Johan Sompotan)
A Man is Scrubbing the Pewter
(Source: Credit: Johan Sompotan)

The pewter crafts of Bangka are available at many gift shops or souvenir shops around the island. But for better experience, it is recommended for you to visit the producer’s village such as Bacang or Muntok to see the whole production process. It is because each pewter product of Bangka is made through a series of long and complicated process, instead of instantly fabricated. The production process includes fusing, forming, scrubbing, and pasting.

The pewter crafts of Bangka usually use the tin residues from the factory. To make it look more elegant, the tin is also mixed with copper and antimony. This combination results in a more gleaming product of crafts. There are many kinds of pewter products you can buy; from the simple and small items like keychain, to big items such as ship miniatures as table decoration.


Kopiah Resam

Kopiah Resam is a craft from Melayu culture. Kopiah is like a hat usually used for religious occasions. Kopiah is mostly used by Moslem when they go praying or on Islamic holy days. While common Kopiah is made using cloth, in Bangka, Kopiah is made from Resam root. Resam is a species of palm commonly grow in Bangka. The production is all hand-made, not fabricated like common Kopiah.

To make a Kopiah Resam, the resam root needs to be grated into fibers. The fibers are then soaked in water for 3 days. It is then dried under the sun. After the root fiber is dried, it then can be plaited into a piece of Kopiah. This process can take about one to three weeks, depending on how neat the plaid is intended.

Now, Resam root is not only used for making Kopiah. You can also find several other crafts made from this exotic fabric such as bags, sun hats, and even plates. Just like any other traditional crafts, you can also watch and learn the production process by visiting the producer’s village. For Resam Root crafts, you can get it from Dendang Village.

Any Kinds of Crafts Made from Resam Root (Source: Credit: Tien Aminatun)
Any Kinds of Crafts Made from Resam Root
(Source: Credit: Tien Aminatun)

Bahar Root

Besides Resam, Bangka people also like to use Bahar root to produce unique crafts and items. Bahar is the plant available at the sea. This kind of products was unintentionally invented when fishermen got those roots stuck on their fishnet. The fishermen threw it away but some people picked it up and made crafts from it.

Bahar root can also be made into walking sticks as it is strong and durable. Many police and Buddhist monks specially order their stick from Bangka to get the strong Bahar root ones. The price of each stick is about $375. Bahar roots can also be made into women accessories such as necklace and bracelets. The price of Bahar root accessories are ranging around $7.5 to $22.5.

Bahar Root Bracelets (Source: Credit: Karya Babah Antik)
Bahar Root Bracelets
(Source: Credit: Karya Babah Antik)

Bahar root is also believed to have detox effects. It is said that if a smoker keep a piece of Bahar root with them all the time, it could stop the addiction. They say it could also reduce the nicotine levels much faster.

Bangka Island is a perfect destination for tourism (such as Lengkuas Island & Parai Tenggiri Beach). The island has many kinds of attraction that every traveler wants to get. It has plenty of exotic beaches where you can enjoy the pristine nature and many kinds of activities. It also has strong cultural heritages and historical background that reflect on every corner of the islands. Bangka also has various culinary that you can explore and taste. And to conclude everything you get from Bangka, a series of traditional crafts are ready to be bought as your souvenirs.