Lot 011

Yong Mun Sen
b. Sarawak, 1896 - d. Penang, 1962

Boat By The River

watercolour on paper
37 x 56cm

Private collection, Penang
Acquired from the Mun Sen Studio

ESTIMATE RM 6,000 – 12,000
The sampan was a popular mode of transport from the 1940s to the 1960s for isolated areas in the country, with a river and inaccessible because of trees and vegetation all around or uneven unpaved and soggy paths. Enterprising boatmen would set up station at such riverside kampung for those wanting to go to nearby towns for the odd provisions or meet up with friends and relatives. A boulder or a makeshift plank platform would suffice for the clients, even for women with tudung (headdress) and baju melayu to step onto the boats. Four people are either waiting for their turns or lepak (loiter) watching. Which begs the question: How did the artist Yong Mun Sen get there to record the scene, in the first place? Certainly not through Ah Kow, his personal taxi, as the trishaw would be a total wreck to wend through the treacherous pathways, and there was no GPS to guide him. Ah Kow, who was also a photographer, was paid by wealthy bonesetter Loh Cheng Chuan, one of the earliest Malayan art collectors, to take Mun Sen around, mostly to out-of-way places like Batu Ferringhi.