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The village keeping ancient Malay traditions alive

The villagers of Kampung Pulau Misa Melayu in Perak spend their days in a variety of activities steeped in ancient Malay culture.

Ahmad Sadiq Mohamad Sani
2 minute read
Children run towards the entrance of Kampung Pulau Misa Melayu which is patterned after the Malay palaces of old.
Children run towards the entrance of Kampung Pulau Misa Melayu which is patterned after the Malay palaces of old.
Each morning, the villagers gather for discussions on their commune in an airy hall constructed of wooden beams and tiled in ceramic.
After the discussions end, they head out to begin the day’s work keeping their village clean and tidy.
A young man heads off in his small boat which he uses to paddle along Sungai Perak to check on his nets and fish traps.
Carefully balanced on the prow of his boat, he pulls in a net about 200m away from the village.
Others meanwhile tend to their livestock which include chickens and goats, and look to their vegetable plots and palm trees.
A village leader carrying a bow and a quiver of arrows rides his motorcycle back from a nearby food stall run by the villagers.
The stall, known as Warung Pulau Misa, sells breakfast dishes such as roti canai, nasi lemak and traditional kuih. The staff wear traditional Malay outfits such as the ‘tanjak’ and baju Melayu.
Waiters bring customers their food.
Back at the village, a woman gets in some target practice at the archery range.
Another woman rides a horse in an enclosure while two men wearing the traditional ‘tanjak’ headgear, carrying bows and arrows, watch from the side.
Other men head to the shade of a small hut for a break from their archery activities.
At night, the villagers gather at the hall known as the Balairong where they practise a musical activity called Dendang Anak.
It is a cheerful and lively affair, as the villagers enjoy the music after a long day’s work.
A man plays a drum to accompany the music of the Dendang Anak.
Even the children play along, holding instruments known as the gendang and rebana.
The lyrics to the songs are contained in a book. The songs were written by Abang Ku, an activist and historian of Malay tradition.
As the music continues, the women and girls, affectionately dubbed ‘puteri’ or ‘princesses’ enter the hall to perform a traditional Malay dance.
Everyone enjoys themselves as they continue keeping the musical tradition alive.
The village leader watches from the sidelines as the music and dancing continue into the night.