CLOTHES, BEAUTY, SPAS, MASSAGE AND HYGIENE IN MALAYSIA

BEAUTY AND HYGIENE IN MALAYSIA

In the early 2000s, less than 20 percent of women dye their hair, compared to more than 60 percent in Japan and South Korea. Many women carry umbrellas for protection from the sun.

In the early 2000,s police raided beauty salons and seized a dangerous skin whitening cosmetics after many complaints from users. The cosmetics contained Hydroquinone, a substance that is banned in Europe . Users said their skins became reddish and dry as if they had been burned.

Many Asian women eschew the tanned sporty look and favor the white, frail look. Pale skin is considered beautiful and has traditionally been associated with sophistication and wealth while brown skin traditionally has been a sign of being poor and working outside in the sun. Women often refuse to go out in the summer unless they have an umbrella, a makeshift cape or some other kind of skin protection. Among the skin whiteners available in Asia are White Detox by Biotherm, Pure by Dior, Blanc Expert by Lancom and Derma White by Clinique.

The skin of Chinese women is denser and better quality than the skin of Western women. Chinese women tend to have skin that is free of blemishes and lines for ten years longer than Western women. When the ageing process begins it happens suddenly---with pre-auricular wrinkles developing vertically from the ears and an interocular line crossing horizontally between the eyes and wrinkles appearung on the chin.

Malaysia Tries to Improve Its Toilets

Richard Lloyd Parry wrote in The Times: “Among the countries of South-East Asia, Malaysia has much to be proud of, from its immaculate tropical beaches and ancient rain forests to the skyscrapers of Kuala Lumpur, the capital. And yet a perpetual anxiety lurks at the back of the Malaysian mind: the execrable state of the nation’s toilets. Now the Government is to introduce college courses in lavatory management as part of a continuing “toilet revolution” intended to protect locals and tourists from smelly and unclean conveniences. The country will also mount a toilet exhibition and institute a text message hotline on which sub-standard lavatories can be reported to the authorities. The course will cover loo design, maintenance and hygiene and will enrol its first students within the next three years, Robert Lau, the deputy Housing and Local Government Minister, said. [Source: Richard Lloyd Parry, The Times, February 9, 2007]

Malaysians are intensely conscious of public toilets that would have Thomas Crapper, pioneer of the flush toilet, turning in his grave. This year the country is mounting an ambitious drive for overseas tourists, and the Government has set out to shame its citizens into improving their habits. “Try to imagine dirty, disgusting toilets that make you nauseous — these will surely give us a negative image,” Najib Razak, the Deputy Prime Minister, said at a speech last year at the National Toilet Expo and Forum. “Good, clean toilets are associated with good health, good manners, good upbringing, good housekeeping and civilisation. That is why the Government feels this must be a national effort.”

Apart from unpleasant smells and dirt, and the absence of toilet paper and soap, the problem stems from the transition from the traditional Asian squat toilet to Western-style seats. Tourists sometimes complain of finding footprints on the seats, where previous users have stood. The same problem occurs in other parts of Asia. Until a few years ago, Western-style toilets in Japan bore diagrams illustrating their correct use.

Associated Press reported: Malaysia's government recently said it wanted to start a "toilet revolution" in a country where public restrooms have long nauseated citizens and tourists with their lack of basic items such as toilet paper, soap and sometimes even toilet seats. The effort is meant to help Malaysia's public lavatories become as hygienic as those in countries such as Britain and Singapore, was quoted as saying by Bernama news agency. "Clean toilets cannot merely be judged by the eyes," Lau said. "This matter also involves the use of cleaning equipment, soap, fragrances and proper tissues." Lau said his ministry plans to soon introduce a system for the public to lodge complaints about filthy toilets via cellphone text messages.

Malaysian Muslims Told Not to Use Botox

In July 2006, Malaysia’s National Fatwa Council ruled that Botox contains substances prohibited under Islam, including those from pigs, and the country’s Muslim were forbidden to use the anti-wrinkle agent. John Aglionby wrote in The Guardian, “The council ruled during a three-day meeting after six months of research that Muslims should reject the increasingly popular anti-ageing treatment on religious grounds. The council arrived at the decision after studying reports from abroad, local specialists and fatwas made in Middle Eastern countries, council chairman Professor Datuk Shukor Husin was quoted as saying in today's New Straits Times. [Source: John Aglionby, The Guardian, July 28, 2006]

“While council fatwas are decrees that do not legally bind Muslims, people who disobey them are considered to be committing a sin. In addition to easing wrinkles, the use of Botox - the brand name of a substance derived from the toxin botulin which temporary paralyses facial muscles to eliminate wrinkles - for other cosmetic purposes is also prohibited. It will be allowed, however, to treat medical conditions such as cerebral palsy, muscle spasm and migraines, but only in extreme cases. This decision refers to situations when there are no alternatives for medical treatment, Dr Sukor said. The council said another reason Botox should be banned is because of the proliferation of fake products, which could cause more harm than good.

Doctors quoted by the newspaper said only between 10 percent and a third of their customers are Muslim. Each Botox treatment in Malaysia costs up to 700 ringgit (£105). The paper quoted a variety of reactions to the decision. One television personality, Azwan Ali, welcomed the ruling. People should learn to accept their looks and come to terms with ageing instead of altering what God had given them, he reportedly said. One woman said she would continue to be injected because she did it to look good rather than young.

Baba-Nyonya Therapy at Spa Village Malacca

The Spa Village Malacca is the world's only spa to base its therapies on the healing heritage of the Baba-Nyonya or Peranakan culture - a unique combination of Chinese and Malay influences. Treatments are designed to recapture the energy that life's challenges remove - soothing skin, easing tired muscles, and allowing a physical and psychological escape from the pressures of modern living. Based on Peranakan healing philosophy and inspired by traditional Chinese medicine, the spa therapies are moulded around a person's cool or warm energy. A visit to the spa is a voyage into the heart of Malacca’s rich culture. [Source: The Majestic Malacca]

Erin Reese wrote in Global Traveler, “Every signature treatment at Spa Village Malacca commences with a simple yet strikingly moving ritual taken from the 12-day Peranakan wedding ceremony: the Hair Combing Experience. The ritual is intended to eliminate impurities and bestow good luck upon the betrothed. Although I’m nowhere near an altar, the ceremony began with my attendant pouring fresh water with tropical flower blossoms through my tresses to remove negativity. Following a fruit shampoo, her magic fingers applied acupressure in a stimulating scalp massage that swiftly found me drifting off to another time and place. [Source: Erin Reese, Global Traveler, March 1, 2009 <<<]

“I reveled in my daydream of a Peranakan bride-to-be in Malacca’s golden era. My therapist poured rich olive oil through my long locks as she worked with a wooden comb and careful caress, tending to each and every strand. A refreshing rinse of fresh lime juice and banana conditioner topped off the treatment. Expertly, my mane was swept up into a 1940s twist. “For luck,” the therapist declared, as she pinned a fragrant sprig of white jasmine into my hair comb. And this was only the prelude to the Peranakan Experience.” <<<

“The Peranakan pull their remedies and treatments from a mix of Traditional Chinese Medicine, tribal Malay wisdom and Indonesian influences. TCM considers a healthy person to have balanced yin (dark, or cold) and yang (light, or warm) energies. Upon check-in, I’d completed a survey with a series of questions concerning digestion and dreaming, skin type and sleep, to determine my body type. It turned out that I was a bit too yin and needed a warm-up. For me, it would be the Suam-Suam Panas Experience, or warming heat treatment. <<<

“All Peranakan treatments can be found in a typical Chinese-Malay mother’s cupboard. My practitioner presented a tray of totally fresh ingredients including gula sugar and honey, ground pandan leaves and coconut milk, toasted rice and nutmeg, tapioca and — surely a rarity in any kitchen and the crème-de-la-crème of skincare indulgences — bird’s nest saliva. My body’s culinary indulgence began with an invigorating, all-over gula scrub, a sweet solution of grainy palm sugar and honey — chock-full of essential vitamins and minerals. The curious concoction, with a scent of crème brulée, was worked into every limb. Since I was supposed to be “getting warmed up,” I wondered if I might also be set to flambé. As the syrup was left to soak into my skin, the therapist treated me with the Pandan-Coconut Hair Mask, to moisturize and remove headaches in us “cold” types. <<<

“Nudged awake after another hypnotizing scalp massage — my body cast with a sugar-candy glaze, my hair frosted with coconut-flavored icing — my therapist coaxed me into the treatment room’s private shower to rinse all those calories away. Next came the Nutmeg and Rice Rolling Massage, focused on removing my excess wind. In TCM, it is believed that joint stiffness and poor digestion result from “wind” stored in the body. This blocked energy, or chi, is eliminated by vigorously rolling hot sachets of toasted nutmeg and rice mixture along the muscles. <<<

“Afterward, I felt warmed up and wind-balanced, ready for the peak of Peranakan pampering: the Bird’s Nest Facial. Dried bird’s nest saliva, found in the spittle of cave-dwelling swifts of Southeast Asia, is considered the “caviar of the East.” Chinese culture holds that bird’s nest soup, a delicacy, is an excellent restorative tonic; hence, the same ingredient is used in Spa Village Malacca’s signature facial. Blended with tapioca, the saliva’s mysterious properties made for an intensive skin-softening experience, bringing sweet hydration to my dry complexion. To cool me off a bit, as well as to tighten and soothe the skin, my therapist delicately maneuvered a pair of chilled jade rollers over my face. Refreshed from a final shower, hair swept again into a vintage twist, I relaxed in the private parlor corner of my treatment room. At the settee, a fresh pot of tea awaited, alongside a small dish of acar — a spring vegetable pickle used for relaxation in Baba-Nyonya cuisine.” <<<

Peranakan Egg-Rolling Massage

Superkawaiimama.com reported: “On my recent trip to Malaysia I had the chance to choose an indulgence from a particularly unusual menu, one I’d never seen... At the original colonial boutique hotel, The Majestic in Malacca, they have a fabulous spa village. All the treatments are based on the Baba-Nyonya or Peranakan culture; combining both Malay and Chinese influences. The idea is that the Peranakan healing method tends to what sort of energy a person has; warm or cool, then puts them back into balance. If you’re generally a ‘cool’ energy you need warming treatments and visa versa. I was invited into this beautiful reception area and then gently quizzed to find out if I was a ‘warm’ or ‘cool’ type. Before I could make a decision, we were given the grand tour of this gorgeous, heritage spa facility. It is stunning! [Source: Superkawaiimama.com *+*]

“So what treatment did I end up choosing? Well not the Nutmeg. As it turns out I’m a ‘Warm’ type and needed cooling, so I chose the intriguingly named “Egg Rolling Massage”! I had no idea what this involved but I was told it was good for circulation, bruising ( I always get them) and stomach cramps (all that food!). Before I went off to be turned into an egg roll, I was to undergo a special hair washing and combing ceremony. *+*

“I lay there relaxed, but also highly amused, as in the ceiling was a t.v set into the plaster; so if I wanted to keep my eyes open I’d be entertained. But what I found most incredible was that they were playing film clips of Malaysian musical stars of the 1950s and 60s!! It was sheer heaven, like watching the Malaysian Elvis while having your head massaged. Needless to say, I was very relaxed before I went in for my massage. *+*

“After talking a short refreshment break and being adorned with fresh Jasmine ( it smelt SO good!), I was met with my unusual massage partner. Yes, they are hard boiled eggs! The idea is that these eggs, very well boiled then shelled, are kept in a steamer to keep them warm. The massage is a progressive technique that is a combination of Balinese massage (lots of stretching), then each section of your body is rolled with these eggs. When they first touched my skin I’d forgotten what was happening and didn’t realise they were eggs. It felt as though the therapist had a warm ball of massage oil that was slowly melting over the skin as she rolled it around. After about five minutes it dawned on me that these were the eggs. They don’t split open, it was just a sensation of the delicate spreading warmth as they moved over my skin. It is AMAZING!” *+*

Clothes and Fashion in Malaysia

From magnificent tribal head-feathers with bark body-covers to antique gold-woven royal songket fabric, the array of Malaysia's traditional costumes and textiles are stunningly diverse and colourful. In the early days, the aboriginal tribes wore native bark costumes and beads. With the advent of the ancient kingdoms, hand-loomed fine textiles and intricate Malay batik were used by the Malay royalty. As foreign trade flourished, costumes and textiles such as Chinese silk, the Indian pulicat or plaid sarong and the Arabian jubbah a robe with wide sleeves were introduced to the country. Today, traditional attire such as the Malay baju kebaya, Indian saree and Chinese cheongsam are still widely worn.

The sarong has been the traditional garment for both men and women in Malaysia. The way they are worn, fabric, colors, length depends on the situation and the wearer. For the most part short sarongs, often just below the knee, were worn by men and women when they worked in the fields. In Malaysia, a sarong is called a kain sampin or kain sarong . It is often worn over trousers.

The colorful traditionally-dyed material used to make shirts and other garments in Malaysia is called batik. Malaysia is famous for its batik prints and songket (traditional fabric, handwoven with golden and silver thread) that has traditionally been worn during ceremonial occasions. U.S. Vice President Al Gore wore a Malaysian batik shirt during a visit to Malaysia in 1998.

For men, Batik can be worn at dinner functions. Even the ladies wear the fabric as formal dress, combining batik with modern fashion. The Malaysian government encourages civil servants to wear batik during the 1st and 15th day of the month. In Sabah, East Malaysia, teachers are encouraged to wear batik shirts or baju kurung to school on Thursdays - usually the school will have a particular patterned fabric which will be provided to every teacher to take to the tailor, so that their clothing matches. [Source: Wikipedia]

Jimmy Choo, a fashion designer known for ultra-high, satin-and-suede stilettos, was born in Malaysia. Homegrown Malaysian fashion labels include British India, Bonia, Vinci and Padini.

Men’s Clothes in Malaysia

Most men wear Western-style clothes. In the old days they used to wear sarongs and loose shorts. For formal occasions men still wear a traditional long-sleeve batik shirt called a baju and a black fez-like hats called a songkok in Malaysia, a peci in Indonesia and a kopiah in Brunei. They are similar to the formal clothes worn in Indonesia.

The traditional attire for Malay men is the baju melayu. The baju melayu is a loose tunic worn over trousers. It is usually complemented with a sampin - a short sarong wrapped around the hips. Men in the traditional court of sultans or wearing dancing costumes wear a matching shirts and ants with short, thigh-length sarongs around the waist. This is sometimes accompanied by a woven silk waistband called a pelekat.

A songkok is a traditional round, brimless hat worn by Malaysian Muslim men, especially to the mosque or on celebratory and religious occasions.

Women’s Clothes in Malaysia

Traditionally-dressed Malay women wear long-sleeve, ankle-length caftans (loose dresses) made from shimmering materials and tudungs, pharaoh-like head scarves that are fastened below the chins with a pin and sometimes hang down like boy-scout neckerchiefs. Others wear head coverings that are wrapped around the head and are not pinned under the chin and look like head scarves worn by women in the Middle East.

Before the 20th century, Malay women still wore kemban, just sarongs tied above the chest, in public. As Islam became more widely embraced, they started wearing the more modest yet elegant baju kurung. The baju kurung is a knee-length loose-fitting blouse that is usually worn over a long skirt with pleats at the side. It can also be matched with traditional fabrics such as songket or batik. Typically, these traditional outfits are completed with a selendang or shawl or tudung or headscarf.

The caftans often have batik prints of bright, shimmering pink, red, orange, purple and that are coordinated to match the equally bright headscarves. Many women wear a sarong under the caftan. Some caftans have a yoke that may be decorated or feature colors that contrast with the rets of the caftan.

In conservative areas, women wear white prayer shawls, or mukenahs, when praying at a mosque. Some women hide their faces but breast feed their children in public.

Women working in fields have traditionally worn sarongs that reach just below the knee along with simple loose jackets. The costumes worn by dancers features a longer sarong and a long decorated jacket with long sleeves. Hook and sarong cradles are fastened to the luggage rack in trains.

Clothes of Chinese and Indians in Malaysia

The traditional clothes of Chinese and Indians are similar to those of clothes worn by their ethnic kin in China and India. Comfortable and elegant, the traditional Japanese cheongsam or 'long dress' is also a popular contemporary fashion choice for ladies. Usually, it has a high collar, buttons or frog closures near the shoulder, a snug fit at the waist and slits on either one or both sides. It is often made of shimmering silk, embroidered satin or other sensual fabrics. [Source: Malaysian Government Tourism]

The Baba Nyonya (Chinese immigrants who married Malay partners) wore the elegant kebaya that can be described as traditional haute couture. Hand-made with great skill using sheer material, its intricate embroidery is equivalent to the best Venetian lacework. The pièce de résistance is a delicate needlework technique called tebuk lubang - literally to punch holes. This involves sewing the outlines of a floral motif on the fabric and cutting away the insides. When done correctly, the end result is fine lace-like embroidery on the collar, lapels, cuffs, hem and the two triangular front panels, which drape over the hips, known as the lapik.

The saree is the world-renowned traditional Indian garment. A length of cloth usually 5-6 yards in width, the saree is worn with a petticoat of similar shade and a matching or contrasting choli or blouse. Typically, it is wrapped around the body such that the pallau - its extensively embroidered or printed end - is draped over the left shoulder. The petticoat is worn just above or below the bellybutton and functions as a support garment to hold the saree. Made from a myriad of materials, textures and designs, the saree is truly exquisite. Popular with northern Indian ladies is the salwar kameez or Punjabi suit; a long tunic worn over trousers with a matching shawl. The kurta is the traditional attire for men on formal occasions. It is a long knee-length shirt that is typically made from cotton or linen cloth.

Clothes of Sarawak, Sabah and the Orang-Asli

With its diverse ethnic groups, Malaysia's largest state, Sarawak, has a plethora of unique tribal costumes. Using a variety of designs and native motifs, common materials for the Orang Ulu or upriver tribes are hand-loomed cloths, tree bark fabrics, feathers and beads. Sarawak is known for the woven pua kumbu of the Iban tribe, songket of the Sarawak Malay, colourful beaded accessories, traditional jewellery and head adornments. [Source: Malaysian Government Tourism]

Like Sarawak, Sabah is also blessed with a rich mix of ethnic groups. Each group adorns attire, headgears and personal ornaments with distinctive forms, motifs and colour schemes characteristic of their respective tribe and district. However, culturally different groups who live in close proximity may have similarities in their traditional attire. Notable hats and headdresses include the Kadazan Dusun ladies' straw hats, the Bajau woven dastar and the headdress of the Lotud man, which indicate the number of wives he has by the number of fold points.

Traditionally living in the deep jungles of Malaysia, the Orang Asli of Peninsular Malaysia wore clothing made from natural materials such as tree barks like the terap, and grass skirts. Ornaments include skillfully woven headbands with intricate patterns that are made from leaf fronds.

Descended from Portuguese settlers of the 16th century, Melakan Portuguese-Eurasian's traditional attire reflect their heritage. Dominated by the colours black and red, men wear jackets and trousers with waist sashes whilst ladies wear broad front-layered skirts.

Textiles in Malaysia

Varieties of Malaysia's traditional textiles include batik, songket, pua kumbuand tekat. These textiles are made into all sorts of decorative items, from haute couture clothes to shoes, colourful curtains and delicate bed linen. [Source: Malaysian Government Tourism]

Batik: Referring to the process of dyeing fabric by making use of a resistant technique; covering areas of cloth with wax to prevent it absorbing colours. The colours in batik are much more resistant to wear than those of painted or printed fabrics because the cloth is completely immersed in dye.

Songket: Utilising an intricate supplementary weft technique where gold threads are woven in between the longitudinal silk threads of the background cloth. In the past, this rich and luxurious fabric demonstrated the social status of the Malay elite.

Pua Kumbu: Made from individually dyed threads on a back strap loom. Its supernatural motifs are inspired by dreams and ancient animist beliefs. The patterns that emerge are a fusion of the real and surreal. And each weave is distinctive of its maker's hand.

Tekat: The art of embroidering golden thread onto a base material, generally velvet, was traditionally used to decorate traditional Malay weddings regalia.

Malaysian Batik Cloth

Batik is a technique of dying fabric using wax to create patterns. It originated more than 2,000 years ago in India. In Malaysia commercial production of batik started around 1930 on the east coast of the Malay Peninsula following the introduction of a technique using screen printing stencils that allowed the work to be done fast and cheaply. Malaysian batik is not as famous as Indonesian batik but became fashionable in the early 2000s. Among those who were wearing it were Endon Mahmood, a Muslim feminist and wife of Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Batik is used in making shirts, sarongs, skirts, dresses and almost any other item of clothing in many parts of the world. Batik is an old Javanese word that means “to dot” or "to stipple". The word batik is thought to be derived from the word 'ambatik' which translated means 'a cloth with little dots'. The suffix 'tik' means little dot, drop, point or to make dots. Batik may also originate from the Javanese word 'tritik' which describes a resist process for dying where the patterns are reserved on the textiles by tying and sewing areas prior to dying, similar to tie dye techniques. Another Javanese phase for the mystical experience of making batik is “mbatik manah” which means “drawing a batik design on the heart”. [Source: expat.or.id ]

Unlike Indonesia batik, which features traditional patterns and colors, Malaysian batik is known fro its free-flowing designs, mostly large floral motifs and vibrant in colouring. Malaysians claim their batik is better because it uses brighter hues and has more varied patterns. Even so it is worn less and less at home and is worn mainly by government officials and old ladies in formal occasions.

Malaysian is associated most with the east coast of Malaysia (Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang). The most popular motifs are leaves and flowers. Malaysian batik depicting humans or animals are rare because Islam norms forbid animal images as decoration. However, the butterfly theme is a common exception. The Malaysian batik is also famous for its geometrical designs, such as spirals. The method of Malaysian batik making is also quite different from those of Indonesian Javanese batik, the pattern is larger and simpler, it seldom or never uses canting to create intricate patterns and rely heavily on brush painting method to apply colours on fabrics. The colours also tend to be lighter and more vibrant than deep coloured Javanese batik. [Source: Wikipedia]

In line with the 1Malaysia concept, the Malaysian government is now endorsing Malaysian batik as a national dress to every level of the general population, by having local designers to create new batik designs which reflect the 1Malaysia idea.

Making Batik

Batik designs are made by covering part of the fabric with wax or another dye-resistant material such as rice paste and then dying it and then boiling it to melt the wax away. Dye doesn't penetrate the wax, which is then scraped or melted away, leaving behind a design, repeated waxwings and dyings produces intricate multicolored designs.

Patterns drawn with a wax-filled pen known as a canting are called batik tulis. Using this methods the design is traced onto a prepared white cloth or onto a clothe that has already been dyed. the pattern is then drawn with wax. Wax is kept on areas already with dye to protect them from more dye. The process s often repeated with progressively darker shades until the desired motifs and colors are produced.

Hand blocked batiks, in which the wax is applied with a copper stamp, are called batik cap. items made using this method often have the same images repeated several times.

History of Batik

Batik is associated with Indonesia but is thought to have originated in Africa or India and was brought to Indonesia by travelers or traders from India. There is evidence of batik in Java in the 12th century. From Indonesia it spread to neighboring Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines. In recent years, Western designers have begun incorporating batik cloth into their designs and Indonesia designers who use the fabric are becoming more recognized,

The development of batik in Indonesia is usually associated with the flowering of the creative art around the royal courts. The rise of Islam—which discourages the use of images of people or living things—probably contributed to the stylization of batik patterns and the absence in batik of representations of living things from most design. More recently batik has grown from an art mainly associated with the royal courts into an important industry with a number of noted production centers.

Although experts disagree as to the precise origins of batik, samples of dye resistance patterns on cloth can be traced back 1,500 years ago to Egypt and the Middle East. Samples have also been found in Turkey, India, China, Japan and West Africa from past centuries. Although in these countries people were using the technique of dye resisting decoration, within the textile realm, none have developed batik to its present day art form as the highly developed intricate batik found on the island of Java in Indonesia. [Source: expat.or.id ~~]

History of Malaysian Batik

The origin of batik production in Malaysia is not easy to trace. Few historical artifacts exist, but it is known trade relations between the Melayu Kingdom in Jambi and Javanese coastal cities have thrived since the 13th century, the northern coastal batik producing areas of Java (Cirebon, Lasem, Tuban, and Madura) has influenced Jambi batik. This Jambi (Sumatran) batik, as well as Javanese batik, has influenced the batik craft in the Malay peninsula. [Source: Wikipedia]

Batik was mentioned in the 17th century Malay Annals. The legend goes when Laksamana Hang Nadim was ordered by Sultan Mahmud to sail to India to get 140 pieces of serasah cloth (batik) with 40 types of flowers depicted on each. Unable to find any that fulfilled the requirements explained to him, he made up his own. On his return unfortunately, his ship sank and he only managed to bring four pieces, earning displeasure from the Sultan.

According to the Museum of Cultural History of Oslo, it is known for certain that the Javanese influenced Malay batik-making technically as well as in the development of designs. At an early stage the Malaysians used wooden blocks in order to produce batik-like textiles. As late as the 1920s Javanese batik makers introduced the use of wax and copper blocks on Malaysia's east coast. The production of hand drawn batik in Malaysia is of recent date and is related to the Javanese batik tulis.

Commercial production started in the 1960s. This craft has developed its own particular aesthetic and design, peculiar to Malaysia. The new Malaysian batik is clearly different from the Javanese tradition of hand-painted batiks. Malaysian batik can be found on the east coast of Malaysia such as Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang, while batik in Johor clearly shows Javanese and Sumatran influences since there are a large number of Javanese and Sumatran immigrants in southern Malaysia.

Jewelry and Costume Accessories in Malaysia

Jewelry and costume accessories from Malaysia include leather-crafted goods, beadwork necklaces from Borneo or finely made gold and silver jewellery adorned with gems.

Kerongsang: A three-piece brooch set traditionally used to pin the lapels of the baju kebaya together. Kerongsang usually comes in sets of three. The typical three-piece set comprises of a kerongsang ibu (mother piece) which is larger and heavier. The other two are called the kerongsang anak (child pieces) and are worn below the kerongsang ibu.

Cucuk Sanggul: A traditional hairpin used to secure hair in a bun at the back of women's heads. Typically made of gold or silver, these hairpins are normally worn in graduated sets of three, five or seven by brides and traditional dancers.

Pending: A large, intricately ornamented belt buckle worn around the sampin, a skirt-like cloth worn by men, to complement their baju melayu, the traditional attire for men. Traditionally, the pending is a sign of wealth and status for men.

Image Sources:

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books, websites and other publications.

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© 2008 Jeffrey Hays

Last updated June 2015

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