Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Ox Year Thoughts - Leather Making

Perhaps you have heard of Peter Goullart?

He was in Sibu for several years in the 1950's. He was very fond of Bukit Lan and made friends with many Foochows there. He wrote a very good narrative on the Towkay Ling and the sawmill.

I read Peter Goullart's "River of the White Lily: My life in Sarawak" many years ago when I was doing a small research on the Cooperative Society of Sarawak. The book was a delightful and insightful account of his experiences as a consultant to the cooperative society in Sarawak.

Mt real experience with a Foochow cooperative was the one in my grandmother's village Ah Nang Chong. The Ha Chok Sia ( cooperative society ) was run by two men and was in a house next to my grandmother's house. I am sure this "white man" had visited it . A friend told me about his Tulai Cooperative and how he knew about Peter Goullart. I also met several people from Bukit Lan who related to me anecdotes concerning him. Perhaps Wong Meng Lei's father would have met Peter Goullart.

In retrospect I feel that all these made him a very "real personality" to me. Reading his book only made the events he wrote more aunthentic and and very interesting. It was like I was part of his book.

Nonetheless his book brought me to search for more of his other writings. And by asnd by I came across his other book "The Forgotten Kingdom" on the net. I read it with the greatest pleasure because it was like reading the prequel to his book about Sarawak!

And it is the Ox year that make me go back again to the two photos (he put 16 precious ones) in The Forgotten Kingdom .

His photos are truly remarkable even in our present day scenario. I hope you will read his books and enjoy the old black and white photos. They are indeed rare finds.

Leather tanning and leather making in China under the guidance of Peter Goullart

Peter Goullart on horseback. He later came to Sarawak to serve the early cooperative movement in the 50's.

At the beginning this year my pastor (in reference to tithing)has referred to the Ox as an animal that has given much more than any other animals to God - while alive. And we should be like this animal - all giving.

Peter Goullart has provided us some interesting knowledge about leather making in the cooperatives he initiated in China. How quaint it is for us to be able to know something about leather making in those by gone years!! So thanks to a man who put his knowledge in writing we are able to "inherit" his vast experience.

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