State taking steps to keep zapin alive

Yayasan Warisan Johor members performing the zapin, which reflects the customs and culture of the Malay community. — Filepic

Johor government will begin the process of documenting the zapin traditional dance to ensure heritage arts synonymous with Johor are preserved.

Johor tourism, environment, heritage and culture committee chairman K. Raven Kumar said zapin was a part of Malay culture.

“We need to start documenting zapin to ensure it does not disappear.

“We do not want our children and the future generations to be unaware of it,” he said.

Raven Kumar said the uniqueness of zapin could contribute to the state’s economy in terms of tourism.

“It can bring in foreign tourists and have a spillover effect on related services,” he added.

Zapin is a popular dance and musical form in traditional Malay performing arts.

Its movements are choreographed to melodies performed on musical instruments such as gambus, accordion and rebana.

It is believed to have been introduced by Persian and Arab traders to the Malay archipelago in the 14th century.

Previously, zapin was performed exclusively during religious ceremonies but through the years, it has become a form of entertainment and performed on general occasions.

Zapin is said to have 118 versions and remains an integral part of the regional Malay performing arts scene in Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and parts of Indonesia.

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