Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Old and New

Or is it new and old? This peaceful blend of wooden and concrete structures provides a nice and soothing breakaway from all concrete views common in cities and urban areas. Don't throw the art and the skill. We should be adding more to our treasures, not replacing the old with the new ones...

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Treasure of Belum

Google 'hutan belum' and the result is 1,910,000 hits as at 20 Sept 2009. I did not go through all of the website but I am pretty certain that they all are connected to the 290,000 hectares virgin jungle spanning the state of Perak in Peninsular Malaysia. The name of the forest, Belum, which in the English Language literally means 'not yet' is estimated to be millions of years old.
The book is about preserving, not throwing away, the medicinal practice of the aborigines living in the area using Belum's flora and fauna. It compiles the medicinal values of 65 species of plants and 20 species of mushrooms alonsgide their medicinal values according to the Jahai aboriginal tribe. Its 160 pages is replete with photos and information meant to put on record the tresaure of the people that have been and to some extent still are being practiced.
Khazanah Alam Hutan Belum, ISBN 978-967-9970-40-1.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Geometric Patterns...

Its all around us. On a trip to Sarawak, by the Wind Cave, I noticed this interesting construction that looks like a web. The geometric pattern is replicated on the floor of the rest area.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

All Work and No Play...

Whatever happens to proverbs, maxims, adages, and all the rest of the same kind or family. Rarely that we hear people using proverbs anymore, not to mention the generation or making-up of new, modern proverbs.
The Malay proverbs for instance are rich in meaning, purpose, and function. Proverbs get the message across more effectively. But not nowadays. Proverbs may not be understood at all since the context is no longer universally known across the community. In fact it could be worse. Proverbs could be misunderstood due to misinterpretation. Misunderstanding is the cause of friction.
As values changed, life philosophy and orientation also change. What was understood as given in good faith and the best of intention through the use of proverbs could be misconstrued. The society, even within the same ethnic group, is no longer homogeneous.
But can new, modern proverbs not be made-up or constructed. Not likely. Saying things directly is more preferred, not the roundabout proverb way.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Batik - The Ultimate Exclusivity

Artisans struggle to make every pieces of their craft as identical as possible. But there will always be some differences, however small, noticeable even to untrained eyes. The differences show even in a design that is supposed to be similar in shape or size, such as flower petals.
It is those differences that give the tell tale sign of whether a piece of object was machined or handmade. It is hard to fabricate pieces of object emulating that they were handmade without replicating the same features on every object produced. It is hard, but not impossible. There are methods for introducing that handmade-like irregularities in machine, but still finishing by machine is not quite the same as finishing by man.
For batik cloth, however, it is the differences that are celebrated, appreciated, and give them premium values. The differences between one and the other are not avoided, but are deliberately planned. Thus, no two hand painted batiks are the same in design. There won't be another one like it. It is exclusivity of the ultimate kind. The uniqueness of every piece of batik cloth made in that manner is guaranteed.
This fits human nature that vie for uniqueness, wanting to be different from others. Imagine turning up in a function wearing batik dress or shirt similar to your peers. Men can accept that quite well, but the opposite gender may not tolerate that. With the latest ruling that all government officials have to put on batik shirt every Thursday in Malaysia, the odds of striking an exact match is high. The way out is to opt for hand painted batiks.
Those artisans know psychology and apply them in their crafts. But, how do they come up with different, unique designs?

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