The plan to nominate the Kampung Laut Mosque as a World Heritage Site under the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is certainly a welcome move especially for the people of Kelantan
However, many may not have known about the interesting story that is closely related to the mosque, namely its mimbar or pulpit, which has remained intact and believed to be the oldest in the country.
The pulpit, which is estimated to be 400 years old, is now at the Ar Rahman Mosque in Kampung Surau Pasir Pekan, Wakaf Bharu, here.
It is believed to have been placed in the mosque when the relocation process of the Kampung Laut Mosque took place in the 1970s.
Built in the 18th century, the Kampung Laut Mosque was originally located in Kampung Laut, here, before being moved about 21 km to Nilam Puri to protect it from floods which had occurred twice, namely in 1926 and 1966.
Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris Art and Design Department head Dr Harleny Abd Arif said although there is no specific information on the date of the pulpit, its age was determined by cross-referencing architectural texts and scholarly writings on the Kampung Laut Mosque, the oldest mosque in Malaysia.
“We can still determine the age of the pulpit based on the architecture and date the Kampung Laut Mosque was built,” the lecturer who has 12 years of experience conducting research on pulpits told Bernama.
Elaborating, Harleny said the two-metre high pulpit has unique features including it was made of sturdy chengal wood and carved using Tebuk Tembus Bersilat and Tebuk Timbul Bersilat techniques.
“There are also the Bunga Ketumbit and Daun Kerak Nasi motifs that are carved on it, demonstrating the meticulous work of its sculpture.
“The pulpit also features the Bunga Melur pattern on its ‘papen meleh’ and the gunungan bersulur panel on the front and back of it, with both sides of the khatib’s seat are carved with the sulur paut pattern which is eye-catching,” she said.
Meanwhile, Harleny said the Kampung Laut Mosuqe which is located midway between Demak in Central Java and the Champa Kingdom, has architectural resemblance with the Great Mosque of Demak.
“This demonstrates that diplomatic relations have existed since the 14th century and its connection with the Kampung Laut Mosque, the oldest mosque in Malaya,” she said.
The same sentiment was shared by Dr Aziziul Azli Ahmad, a lecturer from the Department of Interior Architecture, Faculty of Architecture, Planning and Surveying, Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) Perak, who said that the age of the pulpit could be determined based on the architecture of the Kampung Laut Mosque.
“I believe that the Kampung Laut Mosque is much older than what we had recorded. The mosque is located near the sea and river which were popular trade routes, way before the 17th century.
“This mosque has no dominant carvings…mosque that have a simple architectural style without prominent carvings are usually built in the early period of civilization or after an occurrence of a major event,” said the author of the Mosques, Culture and Architecture book.
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) Department of Architecture and Built Environment lecturer, Dr Mastor Surat said the uneven wooden surface on the main frame of the mosque show that the mosque was built using basic carpentry tools only.
“Possibly at that time, the community had just risen after the fall of a civilization which may be caused by natural elements such as floods, storms, earthquakes and so forth that have destroyed properties and lives.
“The people who remained still have the wisdom but they lack carpentry tools,” he said.