Ping Hap in Lubok Antu — one-stop centre for Iban traditional costume sets, antiques, art crafts

Mawarni showing the D'Drift Team a tablecloth that she designed.

By Ling Hui

LUBOK ANTU, March 30: Ping Hap, a craft store that could be easily overlooked in town here, is perhaps the one and only place in Sarawak where complete Iban traditional costume sets are available.

It is a popular one-stop centre among the various Iban communities from across Sarawak for when they need to purchase all the clothing pieces and accessories for a complete set of their traditional costumes.

The shop, which features a facade that harkens back to the old days where such storefronts were commonplace throughout Sarawak, hides plenty of traditional gems if one were to venture inside.

If it hadn’t been for the recommendation by a friend from Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) Jessie Mangka, the D’Drift 2023 team would not have noticed this treasure chest while roaming around Lubok Antu town here today.

Slowly, from the displays on the five-foot way to the inside of the shop, we spent almost an hour at Ping Hap, admiring the many antiques and local arts and crafts that were available for sale. It was really an eye-opening experience.

Ping Hap is located along a row of shoplots behind the Lubok Antu Riverine Park.
Ping Hap also sells the ‘parang ilang’ and ‘dukuk latok’.
Sample photos of the Iban traditional costumes.

Ping Hap owner Sim Mawarni, 53, is a Chinese Indonesian who migrated to Sarawak after marrying a local here. Her husband passed away and now Mawarni manages the store with her three daughters.

While Mawarni converses with locals in fluent Iban language, she is also fluent in Hakka, Teochew and speaks a little Mandarin. She said she took over the ownership of the shoplot from her husband about 20 years ago and converted the then convenience store into the craft store today.

“I opened this craft store because I really love arts and crafts. It’s not because other people open a craft store and I wanted to follow. No, I really love these crafts,” she told DayakDaily.

Mawarni also said that Ping Hap is similar to that of a parent store because even the smallest Iban accessories can be found there. Meanwhile, most of the craft stores in other towns and cities are buying in bulk from Ping Hap, she added.

In terms of Ping Hap’s stock supplies, she said the craft items are mostly made by the villagers from around the area while some ingredients like the beads are purchased from cities like Kuching.

Being an innovative businesswoman, she said there are times when she would provide her own designs to the village folks to produce craft items like the table cloths, with modern colour patterns.

“Because if they do it, they would do the usual red and yellow colours. They said it’s easier to sell, but for my store which already has a lot of those, I want to sell items that are with my own motifs.

“I plan and draw myself, so this is my own design. For now, there are only two pieces of this table cloth, limited edition,” said Mawarni while she showed off her designs.

‘Marek’ necklaces of various designs available at Ping Hap, Lubok Antu.
A ‘gagong’ found among the displays at Ping Hap.

For any order inquiries, Ping Hap is available at WhatsApp (+6013 803 1970) or email at — DayakDaily