Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Kimekomi Craft| Bringing Japan Home






I always say ‘In every country you visited, you’ll take a piece of it home’, and for Kak Latifah, Kimekomi craft has found a new home. Malaysia.



A foodie will hunt for good food, a photographer will scout for beautiful subject, a fashionista clothes, and an artisan or craftsman, art and craft (obviously). And this is the story of Kak Latifah Hamzah of Pulau Indah, the artisan behind easy-tuck craft or kimekomi, as what the Japanese calls them; the birth place of this few centuries old craft.

Traveling to Japan in 2015 was certainly a life changing mexperience for Kak Latifah, marveling at kimekomi craft during one of her many subway train ride, has sparked Kak Latifah’s interest and now has become her greatest passion. And what makes it even greater is the fact that she combines our very own Malaysia heritage; batik and songket into this old craft from Japan. The result – astounding.


I remembered telling Sham that when you have a good story behind a great product, it makes us; digital storyteller easy to write. Well, ‘easy’ is an understatement really, the right word should be eager, excited, enthusiastic or perhaps passionate as we felt the artisan love and sincerity in producing the craft, and the depth is rather contagious and overwhelming. Thus me writing this, enjoying and appreciating the artisan and their craft even more.

‘Wah’ and ‘Ooooh’ was the first (and only) thing you hear as we entered her studio, just like her subway experience, we too went googoo gaga over the art pieces. This is especially amplified when we laid our eyes on her ‘kebaya songket girls’ as well as her ‘owl family’ piece. Awestruck (I wasn’t even this awestruck when I saw Sheila Majid during her concert recently). First thing that came into my mind (and I verbalized it [after all, I can only contain so much]) was ‘Kak Latifah, berapa harga ni?’ / how much does this piece cost?, wanting to own it.



One must wonder, why the fuss over her art piece?
Here’s the thing, not only she combines our batik and songket into this centuries old craft, she formulates it in a way that it portrays our beautiful aMalaysia heritage and hculture; girls wearing traditional malay attire such as baju kurung pahang, kebaya, cekak musang and etc, easy-tucked it with songket fabric. If Kak Latifah marveled at what saw in Japan subway, we now are experiencing and doing the same. In a magnifying scale. And more.

She strongly believes that there are more than one way to promote our heritage and culture – batik and songket, by using kimekomi craft, she is able to combine both our fabric (heritage) and traditional attire (culture) into a beautiful art piece that can be easily sold, transport and showcased to public.


Knowing very well that she takes custom made orders, participate in exhibition and sells some of her work of art online, I ask her on her next step and as I suspected - ‘beginner classes’. So, you guys out there, go to the link below and follow Kak Latifah on her Facebook and wait for her announcement on craft classes.

What is Kimekomi craft?
"Kimekomi" means to "tuck in" in Japanese. Farbric is of Japanese design silk brocade tucked (and/or glued) into grooves that was carefully carved into.


This craft dated as far back as early 18th century. A priest at the Kamo Shrine in Kyoto named Tadashige Takahashi created a doll body from scraps of willow wood trees and covered it with left over fabrics used for the Shrine festivals, thus the name Kamo dolls. However, kimekomi doll is not temari ball craft as often confused.
  


For more info on Kak Latifah’s artwork : https://www.facebook.com/queenlscrafts/





Kembara Kraf Selangor 2017 Fam Trip is in collaboration with UPENS (Unit Perancangan Negeri Selangor) and all its sponsors with #GayaTravel as media coordinator.












Sunday, August 20, 2017

The True Meaning of Girl Power | Artsis Studio



This time around, Kembara Kraf Selangor 2017 brought a refreshing flavor, one that I initially thought was a great idea, later spellbounded by the sincerity, intention (niat) and generosity that I definitely knew there’s hope in our community, humanity and country. (Yeah I know! Sounded a little dramatic but in all honesty, this is how I really felt). And this is how my self-reflection journey started…


A family that creates Art together, stays together.


That was how Uncle started his conversation, believing that art keeps his family united. He even jokingly told us that his love for art was not materialize during his younger days hence him imposing it onto his children, of which, it really paid off. Alhamdulillah. I doubt there’s any regret among them, in fact, I think they rather enjoy it (and appreciate it of cause). Fast forward years later, they are now a known artist in their own right; a career woman that combines passion and academic – successful marketers, graphic designer, PR specialist and town planner. And as if what they’ve achieved is not (good) enough, they decided to give back to the community by starting an art class for kids in the neighbor, hopefully expending to adult art class (of which I plan to enroll *wink*).


Having honored by The Malaysia Guinness Books of Records for having the most artist in a family created the curiosity in me, reason being their abah, fondly called by the children; Dato’ Haji Mohd Yusoff Jaafar was the former Commissioner of Police, Sarawak. Police force; a person whom many would presumably felt strict, fierce and boring. And Oh Boy! Was I wrong, he was everything but. He not only instilled the love for art into his kids at young age, he cultivated their talent, nurtured their genre and supported their interest. Unsurprisingly, some of his kids not only have painting as talent, they are also actively involved in music – also a form of art. This can be seen is some of their artwork.


Like a little Cheshire cat, I asked further, the genre of each of the sibling’s artwork, and the same time learning the name of the genre. Killing 2 birds with 1 stone I call it *grin*. I soon learn those painting with human element where in photography is called portraiture is called figurative in painting (correct me if I am wrong here), noticed that some of the sign-off is by Yati; the eldest sister. Then there’s Van Gogh style, one that looks like Starry Starry Night; not quite sure which sister mastered this genre, then there’s also na├»ve art of which I kinda like it. But one that captivated me the most is the sister (forgotten her name, silly me) that dotted on her paintings, claiming that she doesn’t fancy ‘a flat/solid surface’ and I told her that the first thing came to my mine is Australia aborigine art. I bet she’ll be famous if she exhibits her work of art there. You go girl!


My curiosity need to be fed, I enquired on the format of the art classes for kids. Guiding and nurturing kids’ talent is what we ‘all expected, but as usual, the family when over and beyond to teach these kids, they taught them to see beyond the bubble’, as it is not colourless, it came in many sizes and that it glitters. Grasp that and translate it onto the drawing board. Aside from that, the classes also share the background of the artist itself, the genre and history behind it. This way, the understanding and appreciation of art is more robust, more depth and full of soul, not a mere 2Ds; on a piece of paper.

After asking my usual ‘Why, When, Who and What’, I came to realized that I actually ran out of questions (which is kinda rare for me, those whom know me well will vouch for this).



‘Teruja’ and ‘terkesima’ is an understatement when you meet them Art Sis; a true to life Girl Power.


So, step aside Power Puff Girls, bow to them queens! *flip tudung*


Artsis Studio
Email : artsisstudio@gmail.com
FB Page : Artsis Studio
Instagram : @artsisstudi
Mobile : +6018-327 0902
Town : USJ 9, UEP Subang Jaya




Kembara Kraf Selangor 2017 Fam Trip is in collaboration with UPENS (Unit Perancangan Negeri Selangor) and all its sponsors with #GayaTravel as media coordinator.











Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Ramadhan Galore in Perak





From buka puasa (iftar) food to Raya food. Food and Malaysia berpisah tiada (till death do us part). Hence I don’t think words or description for this entry are required, I rather you enjoy the visual and remember the venues as it might be your (food) hunting ground for next Ramadhan/Raya *wink*.



Have you been to Kuala Kangsar Bazaar Ramadhan?



The offering there is crazy cool such as multi-flavoured donuts and giant murtabak (no photo on the rest of the 'juadah' as my hand is full carrying them yummeh food for iftar), among others. I truly believe the locals here have a secret regime work-out, reason being, despite all these food options, most of them look healthy and fit (and thin too). Kuala Kangsarian, what's your secret huh?




Buka Puasa/Iftar venue in Ipoh



Once a hostel for orphanage under BAKIP, this refurbished premise in the compound of Kompleks Badan Khidmat Islam Perak is now THUMB'S Cafe, a fusion Malay-Western cuisine  cafe served at a reasonable price with delicious menu options. Somewhat a hispter cafe, Thumb's is popular among Instagrammers and photographers as the kampung ambience with travelogue decor fit the current market craze.

THUMB’S CAFE (HALAL)
No. 133, Jalan Sultan Abdul Jalil,
30450 Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
Opening Hours : 7am onwards for breakfast, 5pm – 1am for dinner, close on Monday




Kacang and muruku for Raya



Do you know the story behind Kampung Kacang Putih in Ipoh, Perak?
Back in 1920s, 10 people from India started a small business selling kacang putih. They settled near a limestone hill in Gunung Cheroh, of which in 1970s part of the hill collapsed killing about 40 residents there.The state government relocated them to Buntong for safety reason and there, their business flourished till now.

There are approximately 120 type nuts and crackers being sold here, the popular ones are kerepek ubi pedas, omapodi, muruku bintang, muruku kari, kacang tanah kari, kacang telur and kacang susu.




Raya with Rendang Tok



The famous Perakian rendang tok was once served to only royalty is now available in supermarkets and selected outlets. Started their rendang business in 1985, Shariffudin Mohamed uses the original recipe handed down by his beloved mother Allahyarhamah Nafsiah Yeop Abdullah (Mak Nik) and has since marketed it to Brunei, Middle East and a few other countries.



Have you been or tried all these places/food?





Perak World of Wonders -- Ramadhan Edition 2017 Media Fam Trip are organised by Tourism Malaysia with #GayaTravel as media coordinator respectively.















Thursday, June 8, 2017

Masjid Ihsaniah Iskandariah | Intricacy of Kelarai




Masjid Ihsaniah Iskandariah; a mosque similar to Istana Kenangan that I never knew existed until now.



The intricacy of kelarai or woven strip bamboo; a heritage art form of Masjid Ihsaniah Iskandariah wall has made this mosque famous nation wide. Also known as Masjid Kampung Kuala Dal, it shares similiarity with Istana Kenangan in Bukit Chandan of which it was influenced by.

Located just 4.8km from the Royal Town of Kuala Kangsar, this unique 1936 mosque with arabes motif was financed by Al-Marhum Paduka Seri Sultan Iskandar Shah, the Sultan of Perak and was built by a Chinese craftsmen, helped by the locals. Leafy windows (approximately 20 of them) decorated with "straight punch, no silat" carved with peanuts, Crescent moon and stars are located around the masjid (mosque). It is said that what makes Masjid Ihsaniah Iskandariah unique is because of the architectural design, aside from its kelarai with arabes motif, it is aslo said to resembled a bird cage.



The story behind it is pretty interesting, according to Jabatan Warisan Negara, the mosque was built after the Sultan had fulfilled the vow to build a mosque when one of his children recovered from an illness and will donate RM 8,000.00 to build a new mosque on a piece of land granted by Juragan Abdul Shukur bin Mohamad Ali. This decision was made upon Sultan Iskandar Shah returning from a picnic at Lata Bubu, seeing his subjects praying in a dilapidated madrasah. Being a pious leader, he believes that a mosque is not just a house of God but an important place for the community. Therefore, he had commissioned the construction of Masjid Ihsaniah Iskandariah of which named after him.

The architecture of the mosque was inspired by the Sultan himself, where else the construction of the mosque was built by Chinese artisans and assisted by local residents. The ornamentation and wall of the mosque are also carved and woven by locals making it even more special. However, the mosque was not used in 1976 after a new mosque known as Al-Wahidiah Mosque was built just next to it.




In 2008, Jabatan Warisan Negara (Department of National Heritage) has initiated the conservation work on the mosque. Upon the the completion of restoration work on 17 Dec 2009, DYMM Sultan Azlan Shah officially re-opened the mosque on 6 May 2011 and it was accorded heritage status by the Jabatan Warisan Negara.



Above the importance of unique historical buildings and architecture, the National Heritage Department has carried out conservation work in December 2008. Among the problems faced by the project is the preparation of the backdrop due to the absence of skilled craftsmen and the lack of manufacturing materials ie bamboo oils Locally to create a cliff wall. Therefore, the National Heritage Department has obtained a wickerwork and bamboo source from Perlis State according to the original type. This conservation work has been carried out using systematic work arrangements to preserve the originality of original architecture.

- Jabatan Warisan Negara –







Both ‘Jelajah Kesultanan dan Warisan Melayu Perak 2017’ and ‘Perak World of Wonders -- Ramadhan Edition 2017’ Media Fam Trip are organised by Tourism Malaysia with KTMB as main transportation partner and Tourism Malaysia with #GayaTravel as media coordinator respectively.










Monday, June 5, 2017

Tengkolok Folding (Menyolek Tengkolok/Destar)





Popularly known as tengkolok, this traditional Malay male headgear (a.k.a destar, tanjak, and setangan kepala) is nowadays being worn in official events, weddings or investiture ceremony when one is being coffered with knighthood. Historically, it is folded or binded ('solek' in Malay tengkolok term) to neaten the hair when commoners visit their Sultan. As it quickly become a great favourite, it later made into the official attire for the palace as well as for the public.


For Perak royalties, ones rank is closely related to each tengkolok binding style and colour. Each states has its own binding style and it is also said that Perak has the most beautiful tengkolok binding. However, the most famous style is called Dendam Tak Sudah from the state of Negeri Sembilan. It was learnt that the art of creating tengkolok is by folding and shaping it using hand and knee. No machine can create this piece of art.

There is a folklore pertaining how tengkolok came about in the malay sultanate custom. It was told that the first Sultan of Perak; Sultan Muzaffar Shah I ibni Almarhum Sultan Mahmud Shah (1528 – 1549) set sail to Perak to form the Perak Sultanate. Sultan Muzaffar was the second prince born to the last Sultan of Melaka, Sultan Mahmud Shah, who was then exiled to Johor following the fall of Melaka to the Portuguese (this is also the reason why Keris Taming Sari resides in Perak, under the care of the royal palace). The Melaka Sultanate royal regalia, including the Royal Crown of Melaka were brought together in his journey to Perak.



Nearing Perak, Sultan Muzaffar Shah ship entered shallow waters and was stuck hence the crew decided to lighten the load of the ship to get the ship sailing again. Many of the items carried on the ship were thrown into the sea yet the ship still refused to budge, everything was removed from the ship inclusive of the Royal Crown. Immediately the ship was able to move, pleased with the offering of the Royal Crown, and soon after Sultan Muzaffar Shah able to continue his journey.

This act of throwing the royal crown into the sea was identified as a miracle sign, he swore that he and his descendants would never wear a crown as Sultans, nor be crowned during their installation. Subsequently, this has became a practice by other states’s Sultans, thus till today, Tengkolok came as a replacement for the royal crown.


To know how tengkolok became known or existed amongst the malay culture, one has to understand the history behind it. In 7th century during the height of Sriwijaya empire, Langkasuka was conquered, and during this invasion, tengkolok was introduced and worn by the Srivijayan that eventually localized and assimilated with the locals.

There are 8 styles of Perak tengkolok folding or binding that has been recorded, namely Anak Gajah Menyusu, Dendam Tak Sudah, Ayam Patah Kepak, Alang Iskandar, Helang Menyusur Angin, Pucuk Pisang Patah, Balong Ayam and Getam Pekasam. Many might have not known that the tengkolok folding for the Sultan has a higher ‘pucuk rebung’ as compared to commoners. Hence, the art of tengkolok folding in Perak is cared for its heritage and culture are highly valued.

Below are the Perak styles and colours that are associated with ranks :
DYMM Sultan –Balong ayam. White and gold
DYTM Raja Muda –Ayam patah kepak. Yellow and gold
DYAM Raja Di-Hilir –Lang Menyusun Angin. Black and silver

Tengkolok Helang Menyusur Angin worn by Sultan Perak, Sultan Nazrin upon his coronation.






Both ‘Jelajah Kesultanan dan Warisan Melayu Perak 2017’ and ‘Perak World of Wonders -- Ramadhan Edition 2017’ Media Fam Trip are organised by Tourism Malaysia with KTMB as main transportation partner and Tourism Malaysia with #GayaTravel as media coordinator respectively.












Thursday, May 18, 2017

Kuala Kangsar Delicacy | Teratak Warisan Kampung




When it comes to traditional Kuala Kangsar delicacy, no one knows it better than the husband and wife team Saidi Othman and Zaliah Ibrahim, the lovely owner of Teratak Warisan Kampung; operating for the last 15 years. With their 30 types of dishes serves daily, it is no wonder that repeated guest and those whom came from afar seek for Saidi and Zaliah ‘air tangan’- authentic-‘Kuale’-dishes.


Fascinated with how his grandmother cooks ikan loma (without choking its small niddle like bones), Saidi begins to learn the art of cooking ikan loma or Thynnichthys thynnoides/white carp (upon googling); a fresh water fish that is found aplenty in Perak. The famous ikan loma dish is ‘ikan masak pindang’ or fish in brine style; a clear soupy type of dish using ginger, chili, galangal and etc wrap in seniar leaf and boil for 2 nights.

Because of their passion for food and his love for his heritage, in 1999 marks the birth of Teratak Warisan Kampung . Said manning the restaurant while Zaliah manages the kitchen, a perfect combination and match made in heaven.

Few Kuale dishes that is popular amongst the near and far are Gulai Kemahang, Nasi Lemuni/Legundi, Kebebe, Betik Muda masak air, Ikan Bakar dalam tanah liat and Siput Sedut campur pucuk paku, these are usually paired with ulam (local salad) such as paku rawan, daun asam jawa, pegaga and etc eaten with sambal belacan and kerabu kelapa. Not to forget Ikan pekasam, the legendary Lenggong delicacy.


Located just behind the Kuala Kangsar bus station, this corner lot restaurant is able to fit in minimal 50 patrons in one go, ideal for group (only upon reservation) and family get-together meal.

Saidi’s aim is to introduce and educated the younger generation to authentic local delicacy as much as possible, preserving Kuala Kangsar heritage and signature dish. Hoping that one day, Kuala Kangsar dishes will famous at international level.


Teratak Warisan Kampung
Add: 43, Bandar Baru, 33000 Kuala Kangsar, Perak.
Tel: 016-5584955 (Saidi) / 016-4434955 (Zaliah)

Business hours
Mon – Sat : 7.30am – 4.30pm
Sunday : closed





An event organised by Tourism Malaysia with KTMB as main transportation partner.










Monday, May 15, 2017

Lenggong charm | Suka-Suka Lake Retreat





Celebrating Raya in Suka-Suka Lake Retreat.
Came as a surprise to me as well.
You heard me right alright. This place reminds me of Terrapuri in Terengganu and Pasir Belanda in Kelantan. To know one that is so near is definitely exciting.



Located in Kampong Kelantan, Lenggong, Suka-Suka Lake Retreat is the brainchild of En. Aziz, a family-owned resort managed by both husband and wife, together with their son (and of course their domestic workers). A kampong style resort nestled by the morning mist of Tasik Raban, surrounded by the sound of mother nature. Its stream strokes ever so gently on the resort’s shoulders,  migration birds singing as if there’s no tomorrow and the chilly breeze caressing one’s face along with the morning sun. That’s how calm Suka-Suka Lake Retreat is and why guest kept coming back. And also why I fell in love with Suka-Suka at the first sight, and I bet you will too.

Consist of a rumah ibu (or what I would like to call it, if name has yet been given that is) where guest register, meet with the owner, have their meal, read books and mingle (a common room so to speak), with a few other houses catering for 2 – 6pax; each with its own unique view. Reminds me of home away from home.



With such setting, I begin to wonder on activities they have instore for guests. Well well well… Not that it took me off guard but knowing the fact that some valuable thoughts were put into it does deserve some brownies points I would say. Fishing, for one is its biggest attraction, then there’s sunrise boating and cruising excursion (which is just my type of activities) at Tasik Raban, for those history geek (UNESCO hunter), you can always head to Lenggong Archeological Museum and learn about Perak Man. Worry not food lovers, aside from the famous ikan pekasam or fermented sour fish that you can check out and try, you can also venture into their town and sample local delicacy such as Kebebe, Masak Lemak Pekasam Loma, Gulai Umbut Pisang Hutan, Belotak, Kerabu Umbut Tepus Gajah and Rendang Daging Masak Hitam.



Then En. Aziz said something that caught me by surprise, apparently there are families who found home in this quaint secluded place that it has been their yearly event to celebrate Raya (Eid Fitr) here; and the works. From bakar lemang, anyam ketupat, right to main mercun… Suka-Suka Resort happily welcomes and entertains them.


It is hard to not like this beautiful place, serene, captivating and full of warm that hours and days passed by ever so quickly.




Doubt?
Go and experience it yourself *wink*.



Suka-Suka Lake Retreat
PKK 19/27 Kampong Kelantan
33040 Lenggong
Perak, Malaysia
Mobile : +60 16-531 2021




An event organised by Tourism Malaysia with KTMB as main transportation partner.











Friday, May 12, 2017

Keris | The Art of Malay Weapon




A good keris is one that is well-balanced and is able to stand on its own.
Little that we know.


According to En. Abdul Mazin, a highly skilled Empu or keris-maker/master craftsman on keris-making, one can validate how good a keris is by testing its ability to ‘stand’ on its own. A fit that reflects how skillful is the empu himself. It proves that the empu is experience in making sure a balance mix of metal composition, shape, the right hilt size, weight and carved (lekuk), which plays a major role in ensuring the centre of gravity is at the central point.

The Malay asymmetrical dagger (keris or kris) is made and achieved through alternating laminations of irons. A keris is divided into three parts: bilah (blade), hulu (hilt), and warangka (sheath). As a weapon and a piece of Malay Nusantara art, it is often carved and designed in great intricacy with aesthetic value. Precious and rare types of wood, gold or ivory are being used to decorate its sheath and hilt. A distinctive keris known today is the Keris Taming Sari, Laksamana Hang Tuah’s dagger. It is said that the sheath is covered with gold leaf and that the hilt is in green with red studs. There are folklore/legend stating that Keris Taming Sari has mystical powers as the opponents are unable to defeat the owner, making him invulnerable. It is also said to be capable of hovering in the air when pursuing the enemy.



Pak Mazin, hails from Kampung Padang Changkat in Kuala Kangsar is a very experience empu. He started experimenting his interest and skill at the age of 12, back in the 1960s, was entrusted by Istana Negara to produce the ‘keris hukum’, part of the royal regalia for the installation of Tuanku Abdul Halim as the 14th Yang di-Pertuan Agong. His talent comes as no surprise, as he inherited his skill and knowledge from Pandak Lam; his grandfather, who is also the son of Tukang Mamat, who is the royal craftsman of Kuala Kangsar. Started by learning about the metal types such as soft iron, tempered steel and undascened steel, once this is mastered, one can then learn to heat up and forge the metal.


This mixed metal will be heated up and thinned out with seven pieces of metal tied together with a wire, then repeating the process of heating up, merging and thinning out. It is noted that the process of merging the metal must be done in great care as this is to ensure a high quality keris is being produced. We were told that a real bilah (blade) will have 15 layers of metal; seven each in the front and back, while a layer of steel in being alternated in the middle, between soft iron and undascened steel.


Pak Mazin once said that the keris symbolises the power and the valour of the Malay people, upholding our heritage and culture is our utmost priority. And I agree.





An event organised by Tourism Malaysia with KTMB as main transportation partner.















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