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Maznah anak Unyan

Maznah anak Unyan serves as the current chairperson of the Tompoq Topoh Mah Meri Women’s Initiative, established in 2005 with a small group of pandanus weavers from Pulau Carey, Selangor. The initiative has since expanded to include over sixty women weavers in four villages on the island, providing them a source of income from their traditional skills.

In 2007, Maznah played a significant role in documenting the traditional knowledge and lore of her village, Kampung Sungai Bumbun, through a booklet titled “Chita Hae,” published by the Center For Orang Asli Concerns (COAC).

Maznah is not only a skilled artisan who has trained Orang Asli women in neighbouring villages in the art of pandanus and Nipah leaf weaving but also leads a cultural troupe called Kumpulan Jo-oh Tompoq Topoh. Established by her late father in the 1960s, this troupe has expanded to include a junior section and has received invitations to perform internationally, effectively representing their cultural heritage.

In 2015, Maznah received the Living Legends Award from the Ministry of Heritage, Malaysia, recognizing her expertise in traditional Orang Asli basketry and plaiting. She is also known for composing new songs in her native Hma’ Btisi language, which are available on Spotify. Furthermore, she is actively engaged on social media. Perhaps her most significant contribution is her role in bringing the Mah Meri ethnic group and their rich heritage to the forefront of Malaysian public awareness, despite their relatively small population of fewer than 5,000 individuals nationwide.

Impact often starts small – from changing perspectives and mindsets on women, our heritage and craft to helping Orang Asli earn incomes while keeping our heritage alive.

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