Malaysian Arts & Handicrafts
Music and Dance
Some of the key features of the Malaysian cultures are: Batik, Kite making, pewter making, weaving and wood carving. These activities make for the primary goods and products of the Malaysia and its society.
Batik was first brought in by the Hindu traders to Malaysia. This art of sketching, waxing and dying a cloth into beautiful designs have become inherent to the culture of Malaysia.
Kites in Malaysia are called Waus and make for one of the most happening industries in rural Malaysia. The art of kite making was passed down generation to generation from the Melakan court.
Being one of the largest producers and exporters of tin in the world, Malaysia is equally famous for its intricately carved pewter. The Royal Selangor Pewter Factory is one of the major producers of pewters in Malaysia. This factory was established by a Chinese craftsman, Yoon Koon in 1885 and continues till date producing the finest of the pewters available throughput the world.
With the vast vegetation and no dearth of timber of all sorts, weaving makes for one of the tribal handicrafts making way into the Malaysian cultures. Several types of vines and threads are used for the weaving purposes. Be it the weaving of furniture or a cloth, Malaysia excels in terms of quality, quantity and variety. The sago palm makes for one of the best weaving materials and is found in abundance in Malaysia. The sago can be dried, dyed and made into beautiful trinkets, jewelry, baskets and so on.
Like weaving, wood carving too makes for one of the primary occupations and major handicrafts of Malaysian culture. This intricate art is where the Malay and the tribes excel most. One can sport the intricately done carving almost everywhere starting from the roof tops to the temples, boats, burial poles and masks.
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Music and Dance
Like in any other culture, music and dance make for an important aspect of the Malaysian culture. Owing to the vastness of cultures in Malaysia, even the dances vary widely. Influences of several cultures can be seen in the wide variety and versions of dance forms in Malaysia. However, it can be noticed that most dance forms in Malaysia have emerged from basic needs and have evolved into the amazingly mesmerizing dance forms of today.
The music of Malaysia is centrally based around the Gamelan, which is the traditional instrument from Indonesia that creates a muffled ethereal sound created by the strings. Among with the gamelan, the drums and the beats played create a beautiful mix of composition. The drums evolved out of necessity basically when in order to transfer news fast, huge drums (rebana ubi) were used to convey the message. Then again, the Malaysian culture has evolved indigenous beats for all occasions. There were different types of beats played for each occasion such as weddings, festivals, danger warnings and so on. These beats later got transferred into the music of the Malaysian culture. Rebana ubi are now used only ceremonially. There is held the Giant Drum Festival today in Kelantan, in the months of May or June.
One of the most renowned Malaysian dance forms happens to be silat that sought its origins from a martial art that used bare hands and body as fighting instruments. This dance form can be seen in Malaysian weddings and festivals mainly while the dancers dance to the drum beats and music created by other instruments.
One of the other dance forms of Malaysia which makes for a mesmerizing viewing experience is the candle dance. The dancer performs with burning candles on plates held in each hand. The beautiful and soft curves and arcs made by the dancer through her body renders he viewer in a hypnotic trance.
Another dance form famous in Malaysia is the Joget. This lively dance is danced on a fast tempo. Joget was originated from the Portuguese folk dance form.
Another popular dance form in Malaysia, which has come from Sarawak, is Datun Julud and is a form of storytelling through dance. The dance is accompanied with Sape, a musical instrument that leads the beats in the dance and is accompanied further by clapping and singing.
Apart from the dance and music, Malaysian theatres too are extremely famous for their inclusions of music, dance and drama into one form. This art form utilizes stories, operatic singing and humor in the performance.
While the cultural heritage of Malaysia is uniquely wide and vast ranging origins to thousand of years back, it will be a mistake to consider the whole of Malaysian culture as traditional. With the changing times, Malaysian culture too has taken a turn to match to the new beats of modernity. Synthesizers and other new age instruments have come into play in the traditional music and dances of Malaysia.
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