Rock Paintings of Tambun


Malaysia’s oldest prehistoric rock paintings found at Gunung Panjang, Tambun (Gua Tambun) was the focus of a group of students led by Professor Dr Lynn Hollen Lees from the University of Pennsylvania. The University Malaysia Kelantan students are currently attached to the Ministry of Tourism (Perak) on a 4-month practical training.

The day trip was organised by the Perak Heritage Society as part of its efforts in promoting historical heritage to visitors. The 2-hour hike was strenuous but worthy and, in spite of a heavy downpour, it did not dampen their spirits.

Perak Heritage Society’s Law Siak Hong was on hand to brief the visitors. They had to climb 128 rocky steps to a ledge to observe the huge paintings at close quarters. From that vantage point they could also see Ipoh with the Kledang hills in the background. It was a remarkable sight to behold.

Evidence of vandalism is obvious as some of the paintings have been defaced. Steps to protect these 2,000-year old rock paintings have been taken but they are not sufficient. The difficulty in accessing the location is what that keeps intruders away. But for how long?

According to Professor Lynn, the paintings were similar to rock and cave paintings she had seen in other parts of the world. The site was gazetted by Ipoh City Council in 1986 and was declared a national heritage by the Department of National Heritage on January 10, 2010.

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3 thoughts on “Rock Paintings of Tambun

  1. Despite its importance to pre-history of Malaysia, the site is not secure and open to vandalism, as has happened.

    The authorities must at least post some guides to visitors, about not taking anything away and not stepping on the old siput scattered all over the floor of the rock shelter. There is a pondok at the base of the stairs where this can be done very simply. Individual responsibility is critical.

    Best we do not encourage visitation until some measures have been taken to protect the site. Or we face further ruin.

  2. The last time I went, the steps construction were just completed.
    Even though the drawings are unique not only in Malaysia but also throughout the world, I’m not sure why this place is not being promoted and not many people know about it.

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