Kampong Morten is one of the oldest Malay traditional villages in Melaka opened in the 1920s. The village is now a major tourists attraction in the historic state.
The traditional village or kampung in Malay can be enjoyed either by a cruise boat or taking part in a historical walk along the village for a crash course on the state’s rich and colourful history of Malays, the original inhabitants in Melaka.
Situated along the Melaka river, and right smack in the middle of the city is a cluster of traditional Malay house called the Kampong Morten. The river acts as the border between the modern buildings, high rises and hotels and the traditional village of wooden houses that exudes serenity and unique beauty.
Historically, the kampong or village was the initiative of British Land Commissioner F.J Morten with a few Malay businessmen in the 1920s to ensure that the Malay community has their own village.
The village was divided into 100 plots and sold at RM100 per plot. Today, there are around 90 houses with 900 villagers in an area of 16 hectares.
To learn about the traditional architecture of Malay houses, traditions and lifestyle, one can participate in the Kampung Morten’s Heritage Walk which is organised by the Friends of Melaka Museums, a non-government organisation who are concerned and want to increase the awareness on Malay heritage in Melaka.
It’s president, Shaukani Abbas said they are planning to increase their members and train the villagers to become the guides.
The walk started with a short tour of Villa Sentosa where guide, Eddie Chua gave a brief history of the Malay traditional house. The house is opened to the public from 9 am to 6 pm.
Like most villages in Malaysia, the traditional houses in Kampong Morten adopt the open concept with no perimeter fence to separate each house and provide privacy. Fences are built for decorative purposes and visitors can move freely within the compound.
During the walk, visitors learned on the anatomy of Malay house, their purposes, the traditions and cultures that are still practised till today.
The balcony or the outer part of the house is for welcoming visitors and the male guests, while the middle part or Rumah Ibu is for the female and the young ladies to gather while the third part, the most important part of the house, the kitchen is where the lady of the house reigns.
While traditionally, men hold important roles in their community and society, on the micro level women rule their households. Modesty is upheld where spaces for men and women are separated.
During the walk, visitors also learned about local herbs planted in almost in every house’s compound that are used in cooking and have medicinal purposes. Visitors also had a chance to see a carpenter turned artist making traditional houses models.
Baser Ali has been making models of Malay traditional house Rumah Melaka for six years. It started as a hobby but now he turns it into a business and had received many orders from tourists and handicraft centres.
The Kampung Morten Heritage Walk is held on every Monday, Wednesday and Friday with three guides who are well versed with the history of the village, Malay culture and tradition and architecture.
The meeting point is at the Villa Sentosa at 136, Kampung Mortem (06-2822988).