One of the perks of balik kampung, especially for those whose hometowns are far from where they live, is getting closer to traditional trades and rediscovering their roots.
The Malay culture for one, has a plethora of interesting traditions tucked in smaller towns or quaint villages. Since interstate travel is not possible this Hari Raya Aidilfitri, consider doing a deep-dive of some colourful Malay arts, crafts dances and even recipes from home.
There are online travel companies that offer virtual traditional dance and cooking classes. You can check out some cool YouTube tutorials uploaded by traditional artisans too. If all else fails, pick up an interesting travelogue after munching on some kuih Raya.
Here are some wonderful Malay cultures that you should discover (or rediscover).
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Widely found in Kelantan and Terengganu, the wau is a traditional kite that is often played during padi harvesting season. It is believed that farmers used the kites as a form of “flying scarecrow”, meant to stop birds from feeding on crops. When flown, the wau also makes a sound that is said to lull children to sleep. There are some tutorial videos on YouTube that show how you can make your own wau at home.
The batik is unique to other cloths as it employs the process of waxing and dyeing. The Malaysian batik usually depicts motifs of flowers and leaves. It is also famous for its geometrical designs that separates it from Indonesian Javanese batik. Malaysian batik is found on the east coast states of Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang.
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More than just a functional weapon, the keris is also a status symbol. There are folktales that tell of stories about the keris with mythical properties. There are only a few keris makers left today, but they are very generous with sharing their knowledge of the craft and trade. You can find workshops in places like Kuala Kangsar, Perak.
Only worn by royalty in the past, the songket is a rich and luxurious hand-woven fabric. It is made from a beautiful amalgamation of silk, cotton and golden threads. Songket is traditionally handwoven by artisans and their numbers have been declining.
However, there has been a revival of the songket over the years, thanks to patronage from royal families in the country.
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This ancient form of shadow puppetry would be the equivalent of the modern cinema in the past. Wayang kulit is sought after for its ability to weave entertainment and storytelling in many rural villages.
It is renowned in states like Kelantan, Kedah, Johor and Terengganu – each with their own unique variations. A search on YouTube will unveil many tales of mythical proportions.