Ipohworld's World

Saving Yesterday For Tomorrow

courtesy of: Ann Kesselring Hamon, USA

Perhaps this was once a familiar sight in Ipoh town – dulang washers walking through the town, either going towards or coming back from the river. Anyone wants to guess which part of town these ladies are passing through?

  1. Ngai C O says:


    More than likely in other towns like Tambun to the East, Chemor to the North, Batu Gajah to the West and Simpang Pulai and Gopeng to the South or any other than Ipoh.

    Could be going home from tin mines either.

    In the early 60s, I saw some dulang washers occassionally panning for tin in the Kinta River near Gunong Cheroh.

    Obviously, if there were abundance of tin, it would not miss the news.

  2. Ipoh Remembered says:

    Yes, dulang washers were a common sight.

    Once there was a lady who kept washing the drains near the Straits Trading warehouse. I might have mentioned her before.

    • Ngai C O says:

      Hi Ipoh Remembered,

      The bags that held the tin ore were such that no losses were to happen. They were more or less watertight. However things could fail when the workers doing the stitching slipped up. This was easily discovered when the 1 picul (one hundred kati) bag was loaded on to the lorry, in which case it would be restiched. Any residue on the lorry would be swept up and included in the shipment.

      Miniscule losses were inevitable though. At the warehouse, the same tight controls were initiated and supervised.

      I would have thought that the warehouse would have a sump whereby all washing would empty into it before discharging into the drain. Tin being heavy would settle into the sump and be recovered on a regular basis.

      This approach was and is adopted in all mineral dressing plants as well.

      I think the dulang washers might be taking a chance but a very, very slim chance.

      Lastly, every little loss of tin ore during transit was always meticulously investigated.

      • Ngai C O says:


        There are two older posts in this website on Dulang Washers, dated 16/06/09 and 14/10/11. Maybe more.

        The comments made very interesting reading and indeed gave different perspectives.

        When the secondary school article was written as published in 16/06/09, another study was undertaken in a thesis. The thesis covered Dulang Washers in more detail, which would ertainly complement the comments etc.

        Click Labour and tin mining in Malaya – Cornell University for the article.

        Also Ho Tak Ming wrote Phoneix Rising.

        • Ipoh Remembered says:

          Thanks for calling attention to those two older posts. As you say, they, and the readers’ comments, made very interesting reading, indeed.

          As for the lady I mentioned who kept washing the drains near the Straits Trading warehouse, you’re right that once she was noticed, the company had its workers alter their standard operating procedure. Frankly, I think this was a typically selfish over-reaction: she was hardly getting rich, merely trying to make ends meet.

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