Saturday, January 30, 2010

#044 Malaysia...Thanks Nurul!

The 1RM stamp is from Malaysian Dances set issued in 2005. It depicts Tarian Asyik which means "the dance of a lover". It is a classical Malay court dance that was popular in Kelantan (a state on the east coast of West Malaysia) and Patani (a state south of Thailand that was part of the Patani Malay Sultanate in the fifteenth century). Hikayat Patani (The Story of Patani, 1730) mentions that during the reign of Raja Kuning (a queen who ruled Patani in 1644), there were twelve asyik dancers at her court who gave performances during official ceremonies as well as at festivals and court marriages. The dancers were maids of the palace.

The dance was created on the instructions of a king who mourned for his favorite pet, a beautiful bird that had escaped its cage. The king went on a long search to find the bird, but he came back empty-handed. Brokenhearted, he asked that a dance be created that imitated the movements of the lost bird. Initially ten dancers enter the stage and sit gracefully. Then Puteri Asyik (Princess of Love) enters and the dance begins. The gracious and delicate movements of the dancers create a romantic atmosphere. The dancers wear long dresses made of silk and display jewelry on their bodies and waistbands. The musical instruments that accompany the dance include eleven types of gedombak asyik (a small drum), gambang (a xylophone-like instrument, usually made of slabs of wood or bronze), and rebab (a bowed lute). Dancers wear local flowers in their hair. Today, the dance would be performed by young girls, and it has become a dance for the common people and is usually performed at festival and cultural shows, obviously no longer a court entity.

The 50sen triangular stamp is from Cultural Instruments & Artifacts" series II, issued on 10th June 2008. It shows a "Kukur kelapa" or coconut grater which is a tool used to grate or scrape the flesh of the coconut from its shell. The traditional coconut scraper is shaped out of a piece of wood for the seat and at the end is a sharp-edged metal spur.
Creativity from the artistic Malays have resulted in the "Kukur kelapa" carved based on the design of a four-legged animal complete with the tail and other carvings of nature-inspired motives such as plants.The coconut grater was once a very important tool in every Malay household as coconut milk is an essential ingredient in Malay cooking. Although its usage by the city folk have reduced due to the preference of electric tools, this tool is still much in use in the outskirts.

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