Monday, September 22, 2008

Three Legs Brand or San Kar Bew


Posted by Picasa

The Three Legs Brand has been around for a long long time. It can be taken without prescription and is sold over the counter in Sibu since the beginning of the Foochow settlement. It is also a popular medicine in Malaysia.

Three groups of people generally like to take them. Firstly the older men and women seem to be very fond of this brand whenever they suffer from mild pains or tooth aches or headaches. An uncle of mine once pour two packets of the medicine into his gaping wound on his leg when he was cutting trees in his farm. He almost fainted from the bleeding but it worked for him and he limped home. It was only the next day that he was able to take the motor launch to go to Sibu to see a doctor. This was before the days of aloe vera and over the counter iodine.

Iban men and women of longhouses buy this brand by the dozens as they live far away from doctors and hospitals. I was told by a lady once that this "ubat" really worked for her when she worked on her padi fields. It was too far away for her and also too expensive to visit a "doktor bayar" (Private practitioner). I thought that she was quite addicted to this medication when I saw her pouring out the medicine into her drinks every now and then. She looked quite normal and healthy to me. Perhaps she was just very fond of the powder.

Another group of people who are fond of this medicine are those who work in the sun. They would always have them ready whenever they feel hot and tired. They would just pour the white powder from the paper packet into their drinking water and in a little while they would feel better.

A sign board for Cap Kaki Tiga in Kota Bahru attracting the public to buy the brand.
(sourced from bus_wrecker at Flickr)

This Chap Tiga Kaki or Three Legs Brand is therefore a boon to the rural hardworking folks. And if you ask any of the Chinese drugs store proprietors you would be informed that the rural population do indeed buy this particular brand. They like this as much as Panadol, a convenient cure for headaches and mild ailments.

But I think it is not so advisable to add this white powder to one's tea or coffee every day for a long period of time.

What is your experience with Chap Tiga Kaki?

If you take a closer look at the packet you can see three men . One man is covering his ears,the second man is covering his head with his hands and the last man covering his chin . Looks like the proverbial three wise monkeys of Japanese folk lore who "say no evil,see no evil and hear no evil" or "mizaru,kiazaru,iwazaru" (literally don't see,don't hear and don't speak".

there is also a Chinese phrase in the analects of Confucius: "Look not at what is contrary to propriety;listen not to what is contrary to propriety;speak not what is contrary to propreity;make no movement which is contrary to propriety." There is a lot to chew in this idealistic philosophical phrase.

I am wondering if the man who designed the package was thinking of the three monkeys. Just a thought. And what's the story behind this brand?

4 memories:

Philip said...

I used to take it as a child for tooth ache,if one packet was not enough to stop the pain, I would take two!.Timber camp workers also take a lot of it, especially the Ibans. Just wonder why after so many years they do not make it into tablets like panadol.

I Am Sarawakiana said...

I used to see some of the drug stores painted their wooden blinds with an advertisement of this Three leg Brand. Any more around in Sibu?

There are two newer products - the solution and the balm. The balm is quite good.

Yes the Ibans and the other indigenous continue to use more of it.

Unknown said...

Captivating but not captured

Are old family photos an irreplaceable link to our past, or just nostalgic clutter?

AN old photograph hangs on a wall in my parents’ house. Sepia-toned and worn around the edges, it was rescued from a battered tin chest, treated and finally framed.

It is one of those old black-and-white images that every family seems to possess. Grandparents with slicked back hair, sitting in the centre, flanked by their children, and surrounded by close relatives with the odd grandchild close by.

In this particular picture I’m the tiny tot in a too-frilly dress and - even then - with robust curls twirling in every direction, placidly perched on my mother’s lap.

Even after all these years, whenever I pass by that picture on the wall, I still stop to look at it, to wonder about the people in the picture. Who were they, really? What were they like at that time? And what were they thinking at that precise moment when the camera shutter clicked?

I am convinced that we will never know. Even when I’ve asked the people in the picture, they are never really sure. Their stories change with each telling.

Those who figured in that picture look at the group portrait and reflect rather superficially on their looks, age, weight and hair. That never-to-be-captured-again moment signifies a passage in their lives that perhaps they do not want to look back at, or rather nostalgically long for.

If the person in the picture can’t quite recall, then what about those who look at it and wonder?

Images of Phoolan Devi, one of India’s most famous outlaws, were equally compelling when her story first broke.

Long, unruly hair temporarily tamed with a bandana.

Red pashmina wrapped around her body, and framing her gaunt, weather-worn face. Dressed in khaki combat trousers, she had only one accessory, one constant companion - her rifle.

Despite being bowled over by the 1994 film about Phoolan’s life, Bandit Queen, I still could not see much of the gun-slinging gang leader’s past in her portraits.

Her candid pictures were from a flattering angle, and when she stared unsmiling into a camera, her eyes did not burn as I expected them to.

And when I finally met her two years before her assassination in 2001, at the rather incongruous Mint Hotel, she looked nothing like her pictures.

Nor did her story seem to resemble the haunting portrayal of her life in the film that even she did not approve of.

She was a simple, sari-clad Indian matron. Though the interview was conducted through a translator, she was reluctant to rake over her past.

She had more pressing things she wanted to do, and she had moved on.

Not at all what I expected from a woman who was married off at 11, fought injustice all her life, saw her lover murdered and who was, in one especially numbing episode, repeatedly raped. How could all that not show?

London’s National Portrait Gallery houses a collection of images of prominent and famous British people as part of its permanent gallery of historical works.

Recently, the annual BP Portrait Award exhibition was on show, with several intriguing subjects.

Artist Craig Wylie’s winning portraiture, for example, exhibited with the top 55 entries for the prize, was of his partner, Katherine Raw. Finished only at the third attempt, the artist admitted, with the project beginning in 2006

He said of the painting in an interview with The Daily Telegraph, “On one level, the viewer’s intrusion into the sitter’s emotional state is tacitly accepted. On another, it is positively rebuffed.”

He wanted to explore the complexities of human relationships, the exhibition programme explained.

Still, I found the image disturbing. It was not a happy portrait and nor was it poignant. Yet, with his brush, Wylie paints his perceived complexities.

I did wonder how the subject in the painting felt each time she sat for him, as he painstakingly attempted to capture her on canvas.

The question remains: will we ever be able to capture someone’s soul on film or canvas or, indeed, in any form?

Perhaps that’s why pre-war photos, school snaps and children at play are still saved and viewed.

Is it hope in search of insight? Or is it purely a refuge in nostalgia, mulling over the many moods that may have prevailed?

Perhaps, however captivating the portrait, you cannot capture a person in an image.

People, places and perceptions inspire writer Jacqueline Pereira. In this column, she rummages through cultural differences and revels in discovering similarities.

I Am Sarawakiana said...

This is a great article and rare to come by. You must be reading a lot.

Thank you so much for sharing it with me.

All the best to you and your undertaking.



web statistics