Art of Woodcarving in Timber Mosques of Peninsular Malaysia and Southern Thailand
by Ismail Said
Abstract. Woodcarving in vernacular timber mosques of Peninsular Malaysia and Southern
Thailand is a manifestation of a craftsman’s idea into a piece of timber. It is a craft that is generated
and nurtured from careful observation by the Malay craftsman towards the surrounding landscape
elements particularly of plant forms. The manifestation is always in abstraction, symbolizing the
plant feature or geometry into three types of architectural components, namely, structural, elemental
and ornament. Cengal timber is the favorite hardwood species for carving which is carved either
in relief or perforated manner. The significant effect of woodcarving in the mosque is that it
enhances beauty and introduces symbolism to the vernacular architecture of the Pattani region.
Although the skills of this craft are fast diminishing in the present Malay society, its revival could be
generated through informing the public about the beauty of the craft.
Keywords: woodcarving, vernacular mosques, motif, craftmen.