Here are some examples of Bamboo Chicks which I have photographed in various places in Malaysia.
The word chicks can refer to baby chickens or a slang term for women but in this case we are referring to bamboo chicks, those rolling bamboo blinds that are an essential accessory to the classic shophouse. Since the term is also used in India, possibly of Urdu origin, it is likely that the word chick came over with the British East India Company or with earlier Indian traders.
Chicks are used as a screen or curtain made of thin strips of bamboo which allow air and light to enter, while keeping the interior cooler and preventing people outside from seeing in. The are far more environmentally friendly than using air-conditioning.
Extremely practical, they keep out the rain and provide shade during the heat of the day.
Small business use them as advertising billboards. It is encouraging that major brands such as Bata, Coca Cola and Milo advertise their products in this way.
This traditional art-form however may be on the decline so buy these future collectables now.
In my opinion the Ministry of Tourism should use some of their budget to provide a monthly allowance to craftsmen engaged in the manufacture of bamboo chicks (and other living heritage crafts such as kite making, silversmiths, beaded-slipper makers etc) so as to preserve the skill of chick-making and to encourage the younger generation to continue this work. Malaysia is one of the few countries in the world to use chicks and the country’s towns would not look the same without them. Chicks are part of Malaysia’s DNA.
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