'Sampul raya' festive money packets embrace contemporary cool


A view of Superdoofus' limited edition sampul raya designs, which feature Star Wars and Gundam themes, infused with batik art. Photo: Superdoofus

As the Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebration draws near, numerous individuals will be tallying up their nieces, nephews, relatives, and friends in order to determine the number of sampul raya – money packets – they'll need to prepare beforehand.

If you're seeking a unique touch this Hari Raya (or aiming to make an impression on a particular in-law), contemplate opting for a contemporary sampul raya crafted by an artist, as this year has seen an influx of more imaginative designs.

An exceptional limited edition Hari Raya sampul design is created by artist Superdoofus, also known as Arif Rafhan Othman. His unique sampul features Star Wars and Gundam characters infused with batik styles. These sought-after money packets, adorned with "Selamat Hari Raya" in Jawi script, were sold out in under two days.

For the first time in his 30-year career in the local comics scene, Bendi's artwork has been featured on duit raya covers. Photo: BernamaFor the first time in his 30-year career in the local comics scene, Bendi's artwork has been featured on duit raya covers. Photo: Bernama

"I've been crafting pop-culture-infused batik art on canvas for about a year now," said Superdoofus.

"With Raya approaching, I figured it'd be neat to adapt the same designs, allowing these characters to wander into everyone's pockets! This (series) also marks my debut in creating sampul raya, and I believe it's a positive and encouraging trend. It not only fosters entrepreneurship among artists but also reflects the growing recognition and support for local talents by Malaysians nowadays," he added.

Renowned cartoonist Bendi, famous for his work in Ujang magazine, has been diligently working this Ramadan. For the first time in his 30-year career in the local comics scene, his artwork has been featured on duit raya covers.

'In recent years, there has been a growing trend among local illustrators to create and release their own sampul designs. Consumers are moving away from mainstream designs, opting for something personalized and unique for the festive season,' says Shari. Photo: Tragikomedi'In recent years, there has been a growing trend among local illustrators to create and release their own sampul designs. Consumers are moving away from mainstream designs, opting for something personalized and unique for the festive season,' says Shari. Photo: Tragikomedi

"I've only been fulfilling orders. After advertising on my Facebook page, I've received an incredibly positive response from fans of cartoons and comic art," said Bendi, 50, whose real name is Muhammad Najib Mohd Rudin.

Based in Perak, the artist has received orders for 400 sets of the duit raya covers for this Raya season. Each set comprises 20 covers, priced at RM15.

A contemporary touch

Artists are incorporating personalised messages into their designs. For example, Shari Jaffri, a writer and illustrator for Tragikomedi since 2018, includes a brief pantun (poem) in her design as a playful response to the nosy makciks and pakciks who are overly curious about your love life.

At the 'Mari! Ke Kedai' shop in Cyberjaya, you can check out the 'Pesta Sampul Raya' wall, featuring 27 artists and illustrators. Photo: Mari! Ke KedaiAt the 'Mari! Ke Kedai' shop in Cyberjaya, you can check out the 'Pesta Sampul Raya' wall, featuring 27 artists and illustrators. Photo: Mari! Ke Kedai

"Last year marked my initial foray into sampul raya art," says Shari.

"The inspiration, much like my brand, stems from slice-of-life experiences, particularly within our culture. I aimed to create something relatable for Malaysians in my age bracket," she adds.

A number of these artistically crafted money packets find their place in neighbouring countries as well.

Kirin Sharom, a self-taught illustrator for "Bunga Dan Bintang", markets her creations in Singapore and Indonesia. Her pastel-coloured designs capture traditional Hari Raya scenes.

'Last year's designs drew inspiration from kuih raya. This year, it's all about reminiscing about my hometown, which is why I emphasised scenic landscapes,' shares Kirin, whose artwork is also available at pop-up booths in Penang, Negri Sembilan, and Kuala Lumpur. Photo: Bunga Dan Bintang'Last year's designs drew inspiration from kuih raya. This year, it's all about reminiscing about my hometown, which is why I emphasised scenic landscapes,' shares Kirin, whose artwork is also available at pop-up booths in Penang, Negri Sembilan, and Kuala Lumpur. Photo: Bunga Dan Bintang

"I began crafting sampul raya in 2019. It was a handmade endeavour, and I recall personally handling the printing, cutting, and folding," said Kirin, who resides in Seremban, Negri Sembilan.

"There aren't many artists (outside Malaysia) creating sampul raya art, so customers appreciate it, particularly those from Singapore," she added.

Syazri Zamrod, the creator of Cultkids, has also been occupied this festive season with commissioned sampul raya projects, notably for a Vietnamese restaurant chain and a special series for the rock band Search.

A view of this year's sampul raya designs from Projek SembangSembang. Photo: Projek SembangSembangA view of this year's sampul raya designs from Projek SembangSembang. Photo: Projek SembangSembang

The self-taught graphic designer, renowned for his retro Malaysian film and pop art designs, views this trend as a chance for artists to collaborate with brands and showcase their artwork to a broader audience.

"This collaboration marks my inaugural venture into crafting sampul raya art, and I anticipate more brands offering opportunities for artists to design Raya-themed merchandise for them this year," says Syazri.

If you haven't yet arranged your money packets for Hari Raya or if you've missed out on these exclusive designs, there's no need to worry.

The "Mari! Ke Kedai" store in Cyberjaya has a whole wall dedicated to contemporary sampul raya designs. Among them is Projek SembangSembang's "Aneka Ragam, Suka Semacam" series, which vividly depicts the lively and chaotic moments of a typical Raya celebration at home.

One of Cultkids' sampul raya collaborations this year, which sees the music-loving artist designing for rock band Search vocalist Amy's clothes range. Photo: CultkidsOne of Cultkids' sampul raya collaborations this year, which sees the music-loving artist designing for rock band Search vocalist Amy's clothes range. Photo: Cultkids

"It was during the lockdown season that we discovered the delight of merchandising art for Raya – we created sampul raya, postcards, and gift boxes. With movement restrictions, we recognised that online business knows no boundaries in reaching out and bringing joy to our customers," stated a store spokesperson.

"It's not the traditional style of sampul that I used to receive when I was younger; it's more thoughtful," remarks Rose Shazwani, 28, who purchased three different sampul raya designs at Mari! Ke Kedai.

"I have nieces and nephews who enjoy drawing and colouring, so I'm eager to see their reactions when I give them their duit raya," she added.

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