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Malaysian Traditions

An ancient art in Malaysia which continues to be extremely popular is the art of crafting the “Wau”, a large and colourful Malaysian kite. The name derives from the similarity of its wing to the Arabic letter pronounced “wow”. There are numerous types of wau, for example the wau merak (peacock kite) or wau kuching (cat kite).

Malaysian Traditions

It is not a surprise that in a country where nature is so intricately involved in providing for all of the inhabitants needs that their leisure time would also centre around it while involving art in such a complex way. The waus are meticulously designed and fashioned in vivacious colours and intricate patterns and the competitions now draw participants from around the globe.

Another very important part of Malaysian culture is the art of Pencak Silat, or “fighting by using techniques of self defense”. The goal of Pencak Silat is to build and develop personality, noble character and honor and those who train the art are training and exercising their control over their spiritual and mental energies while tuning their physical abilities. When using the art in combat, the Silat practitioner will continuously combine positions and stances with movements until an opening presents itself in their opponent’s defence, at which time they strike with a fast attack. The art is practiced not only at cultural events with traditional music and costumes and appears as a dance but is also currently applying for recognition as an Olympic sport. Silat demonstrations can be commonly found.

And no mention of Malaysian culture and sports would be complete without mentioning “Sepak Takraw”, or “Kick Volleyball” which has been popular in Malaysia since the early 1400’s. The basic rules of the game allow only the head and feet of the participants to touch the ball, made out of “rattan” or palms somewhat similar to bamboo on the outside. A close observation of a traditional rattan ball would appear to most westerners to be made out of wicker, with several holes covering the surface.

Malaysian folklore is especially colourful and varied, a result no doubt of the influence of the numerous cultures which helped shape the history and identity of the country.

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