Human Story

Siniawan’s Unique Dragon Lantern Illuminates Sarawak

In a remarkable demonstration of creativity, Siniawan in Sarawak distinguished itself by setting a record for the longest-hanging dragon lantern decoration in Sarawak at 298 feet for the Chinese New Year.

Siniawan is a small town in the Bau district with a population total of about 3,600 people, with the majority being Bidayuh. Located 21km away from Kuching city, it is famous for its Siniawan Night Market, where they promote their traditions and cultures.

This achievement, as announced by Serembu assemblyman Miro Simuh, underscores the town’s unique identity. He also emphasized the town’s exceptional unity despite its diverse ethnic and religious background, stating, “Here lies the uniqueness of our Siniawan town. Despite our diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds, we come together to celebrate every Chinese New Year, Christmas, and Hari Raya. This is our uniqueness—a small place where we strive to give our best to every visitor.”

The ceremony, witnessing traditional performances such as lion dances, marked the official inauguration of the locally crafted dragon head and decoration, which took a month of preparation.

The community was encouraged to capture the moment through photos and share them widely to inspire more people to witness the beauty of the dragon and lantern decoration, which stretches to the cricket field. Siniawan’s record-setting dragon lantern decoration not only stands as a testament to the town’s creativity and dedication but also serves as a beacon of unity and celebrations, bringing people from diverse backgrounds together in the joyous spirit of festivities.

Malaysia’s Karipap Ranked Fifth Best Pastry in the World

TasteAtlas has ranked Karipap, a popular breakfast and afternoon snack, as the fifth in top 100 best pastry globally. It has rated Karipap as the #2 best deep-fried dish globally, the #5 best pastry worldwide, and the #8 best snack globally.

A comment on the website praises it as “one of the greatest Kuih in the world! Savory taste that excites the taste buds.”

Also known as curry puff, this small, deep-fried, or baked pastry shell is filled with thick chicken and potatoes. Its popularity extends beyond Malaysia to neighboring countries like Singapore and Thailand. The famous pastry can be found anywhere, especially on the side of the road being sold by the locals

Renowned for its flavorful and straightforward profile, Karipap offers a variety of fillings, including tuna, sardines, and beef rendang, in addition to the traditional potato and chicken curry.

This is not the first time Malaysian food has been ranked globally in TasteAtlas. Roti Canai, the traditional flatbread made with flour, water, eggs, and fat is rated as the #1 best-rated bread in the world, #2 best-rated breakfast in the world, and #4 best-rated snack in the world.

Jimmy Choo: Crafting Dreams From Penang

Renowned shoe designer Jimmy Choo, born and raised in Penang, Malaysia, not only crafted footwear beloved by Princess Diana but also received the distinguished Order of the British Empire from Queen Elizabeth II in 2003.

Choo is known as a Malaysian shoemaker and fashion designer who was influenced by his father, a skilled cobbler on the island of Penang. At the tender age of 11, Choo managed to craft his first pair of shoes for his mother. Encouraged by his parents, he pursued formal education in shoe design at Cordwainers Technical College (now London College of Fashion) in the early 1980s, where he met his wife, Rebecca Choi, and blessed them with two children.

Choo established his shop Lucky Shoes, with the support of his parents. After two years of his shop opening, his craftsmanship did not take long to gain recognition, with Vogue magazine featuring his shoes in an eight-page spread.

Jimmy Choo’s clientele expanded to include celebrities, notably Princess Diana, who frequently adorned his creations. However, it was the collaboration with Tamara Yeardye Mellon, an accessories editor at Vogue, that helped the brand ascent. Despite starting as a modest operation producing 20 handmade pairs weekly by Choo himself, the partnership helped widen a larger market for Choo’s creations.

Vanishaantini Pellarameas’ Wau Extravaganza”

Vanishaantini Pellarameas, who holds the title of Mrs Malaysia World 2023, will be donning the largest wau costume ever made in Malaysia, weighing approximately 10kg at the upcoming Mrs World pageant in Las Vegas. Vanishaantini will compete with participants from over 60 countries, aiming to bring pride to Malaysia on the international stage.

The wau costume showcases traditional floral batik patterns, adorned with orchids, hibiscus, pagoda flowers, ixora, bougainvillea, roses, and frangipanis. The sheer size of the costume is noteworthy, measuring an impressive 3.8 in height and 4.8 in width.

Fondly known as Vanishaa, the Malaysian finalist aspires to not only make Malaysia proud but also to bring global attention to the country through her unique and unprecedented costume. In a statement to Bernama, she expressed her pride in representing Malaysia at the international level and her desire to showcase something distinctive.

Despite her demanding schedule as a 27-year-old entrepreneur from Seremban, Vanishaa has dedicated time to preparing herself both mentally and physically for the prestigious pageant. Since March, she has been diligently training for the catwalk, managing her health, running her business, and actively participating in social work.

Having previously clinched the title of Mrs Malaysia World 2023, Vanishaa has earned notable rewards, including RM10,000 in cash, a jewelry set worth RM25,000, and an all-expenses-paid trip to represent Malaysia at the Mrs World contest in Las Vegas, commencing on 19 January this year. She was crowned by the international Mrs World 2022 winner, Sargam Koushal of India, at the Malaysian preliminary finals ceremony held in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday, 3 September.

Mendriq: A Language Lost in Time

According to Language experts who were interviewed by Bernama, the Mendriq language could become extinct in 20 years if no serious efforts are taken to preserve it; meaning that Malaysia might lose another one of its cultures.

To save the language from extinction, 20 villagers from the Mendriq Orang Asli in Kampung Kuala Lah were involved in a project to input Mendriq words and their meanings in Bahasa Melayu into the online multilingual dictionary Wiktionary. The aim of Wikimedia Community User Group Malaysia (Wikimedia Malaysia) is to preserve the Mendriq language.
Mendriq is one of the sub-groups of Orang Asli Negrito that can only be found in Kelantan. Currently, they live in three locations namely Kampung Lah in Gua Musang Kampung Pasir Linggi, and Sungai Tako in Kuala Krai. In Peninsular Malaysia, there are three groups of Orang Asli, namely Senoi, which includes 55.09 percent, Proto Malay (41.97 percent), and Negrito (2.94 percent).

The language expert added that the extinction of one language happens when one ethnic group receives formal education that does not use their language, other than mixed marriage, which is happening with the Mendriq ethnic group.

According to the village chief, Ali Lateh, mixed marriages have happened very frequently since the early 1990s. When their significant others cannot speak the Mendriq language, they will use the Malay language to communicate with each other. Hence, this has caused the Mendriq language to slowly be forgotten. The young children are also being seen using the Malay language to communicate with each other.

He also said that a person with the ‘original’ features of someone from the Mendriq ethnic which are curly hair, dark skin, a wide round face, a flat nose, and a short chin; and even if there are, there are less than 10 people with those features.

The Tale behind Bujang Senang: the World’s 4th Largest Crocodile

Bujang Senang, recognized by many as the notorious crocodile responsible for numerous fatalities in Sarawak is viewed differently in the cultural narrative of the Iban people, where they believe that the deadly crocodile was once a man that was cursed to transform into a crocodile.

Ranking as the world’s fourth-largest crocodile, Bujang Senang has become the fear of the villagers around the Batang Lupar River since 1941. Its demise came at the hands of a combined effort of the police and villagers, requiring them four hours.

Legend holds that Bujang Senang was formerly an Iban warrior named Simalungun during the time when people practiced ‘mengayau’ (cutting off and collecting the enemies’ heads). His mystic skills rendered his body making him immune from attack and becoming an unbeatable force on the battlefield.

The mystic arts, however, carried a taboo that, if violated, the practitioner would become vulnerable. Simalungun’s enemies, desperate to overcome him, kidnapped his wife in an attempt to extract the closely guarded secret of his taboo. In a confrontation at the Batang Lupar River, Simalungun’s enemies released his wife but fatally impaled her with a javelin before he could reach her.

Consumed by grief and rage, Simalungun engaged in a fierce battle. To their surprise, his enemies discovered that weapons could harm him once he entered the river. It then came to a quick conclusion that Simalungun’s taboo forbade him from standing in a river, and despite his formidable skills, he was eventually defeated. His lifeless body, along with that of his wife, was thrown into the river.

Mysterious forces dwelling in the river cursed Simalungun’s remains, transforming him into a colossal crocodile, identifiable by a distinct white stripe on its back.

During its prime, Bujang Senang was rumored to rival the size of a bus, but by the time of its demise in 1992, it was measured at around 20 feet. Today, the skull of Bujang Senang is on display at Jong’s Crocodile Farm in Sarawak.

Anniketyni Madian’s United Nations-Recognized Art

Anniketyni Madian hailing from Sarawak has captured the recognition of the United Nations with her Distinctive engraving of ‘Rutit’ Pua Kumbu.

At the age of 34, the artist has carved her niche as a professional wood sculptor since 2008, gaining popularity across Asia. Her prowess earned her two finalist positions in the Sovereign Asian Art Prize (SAAP) in Hong Kong, receiving national recognition and expanding her influence internationally through art exhibitions in various locations, including overseas.

With a blend of Iban and Malay heritage, Anniketyni’s journey into the world of sculpture began during her pursuit of a Master of Fine Arts (Sculpture) from MARA University of Technology. According to Anniketyni, she does not want to bound by ordinary works, hence she applies the element of Pua Kumbu in each of her works. Pua Kumbu, renowned among Iban women, holds cultural significance in the weaving industry of Sarawak’s textile tradition.

Traditionally, this multi-colored patterned cloth is usually used in ceremonies and important events such as childbirth, coming-of-age celebrations, and funerals. To make it more unique, the artist also combines the element of Pua Kumbu with Islamic elements such as calligraphy and Jawi writing.

As an advocate for her Sarawakian heritage, Anniketyni emphasizes the importance of promoting her community’s culture through art. Her sculputres have transcended local acclaim, capturing the attention of United Nations and Google. Some of her sculpture are also exhibited at private art galleries, Four Season Hotel, and many more.

Exploring the Origins and Evolution of Zapin Dance

Zapin, a traditional Malay dance passed down through generations, encompasses various types like Zapin Melayu Johor and Zapin Tengliu, each distinguished by unique movements and styles. Despite its deep connection to Malay culture, the dance’s origin remains unknown to many.

Rooted in Malay culture, Zapin draws inspiration from Arabian-Persian arts seamlessly integrated into the Malay artistic tradition. The term “Zapin” is derived from the Arabic word “al-Zafin,” signifying ‘foot movement’ and highlighting the dance’s intricate focus on footwork.

Historically, the Zapin Dance originated in Siak Palace, where it entertained the royal students following their intensive studies on Islam. Arabian merchants introduced Zapin from Handramaut (Yemen) to Johor-Lingga in the 16th century, incorporating it into social activities with an Islamic context aimed at teaching Islam.

The dance was initially restricted to Malay men, with Malay women advised against participating to maintain social boundaries. But the dance has evolved to include both genders today. It has gained significant popularity in Johor, Pahang, and Selangor.

While Zapin was once a feature of religious ceremonies, it has transformed into a form of traditional entertainment. Traditional percussion instruments like gambus, accordion, rebab, marwas (bongo), traditional drum rebana, and dok accompany the dancers.

Over time, various choreographic evolutions have led to different forms of Zapin dance. One such evolved variant is Zapin Tengliu from Mersing, Johor, believed to have been created by fishermen dancing on their boats during leisure breaks at sea, syncing with the rhythm of the waves.

Distinctively, Zapin Melayu Johor stands out for blending Arab arts with local traditions and Islamic art philosophy. In the past, this Zapin was not confined to stages but graced mosque yards during celebrations, such as the birthday of Prophet Muhammad (Maulidurrasul).

Exploring the Origins of Traditional Malaysian Kuih

Just the mention of kuih will make one mouth water for it conjures nostalgia and unique local flavours. Ranging from sweet indulgences like kuih lapis to savory delights like kuih cara berlauk. But as Malaysians, do we truly know the origin of these traditional tasty local treats?

According to the author of “Kuih: From Apam to Wajik, a Pictorial Guide to Malay Dessert” Hidayah Amin, kuih is a Malay word used to describe bite-sized snacks such as cakes, biscuits, bread, and even porridge. The term is used generically to mean Malay desserts.

The evolution of kuih is deeply intertwined with historical events, particularly the migrations of Chinese, Indians, and other explorers who left their culinary imprints on Malaysia in bygone eras. The first kuih was created by the Peranakan or Nyonya people—pre-colonial Chinese settlers who arrived during the reign of old Malay Sultanates and had completely integrated their customs with local traditions, including language, faith, and cuisines.

The word ‘kuih’ is of Chinese origin from the Hokkien character 粿 (pronounced ‘kway’), but the tastes are distinctively Malay and Indonesian, Smooth, creamy coconut milk blended with rice flour, mung bean starch or tapioca flour.

Tracing the origins of each kuih type proves challenging, as these bite-sized delicacies carry a unique blend of Malay, Indian, and Chinese influences. Despite often being labeled as Nyonya kuih, the reality is that these treats represent a quintessential Malaysian delicacy. They showcase the nation’s rich diversity and cultural fusion, transcending labels and truly embodying the essence of Malaysia’s culinary heritage.

Ridzman Zidaine Shines Bright on Louis Vuitton’s Runway

The name Ridzman Zidaine isn’t new in the model industry, especially for the big fashion houses, having walked the runway for Hermes, Ermenegildo Zegna, and Homme Plissé Issey Miyake, among other renowned brands. And once again, he has set another achievement for the country, as he became the first Malaysian to open for Louis Vuitton at the young age of 23.

The dazzling event unfolded against the stunning backdrop of Hong Kong’s waterfront Avenue of Stars, where Pharrell William, an American rapper and entrepreneur, became Louis Vuitton’s men’s creative director and was the designer of the Men’s Pre-Fall 2024 collection.

According to Louis Vuitton, the theme of the collection featured a nautical sailor motif to ‘reinvent the seafarers’ wardrobe’. The well-fitted design of the double-breasted suit highlighted his physique, combining traditional sophistication with a modern twist. This created a beautiful representation of Louis Vuitton’s innovative and cutting-edge style. Notably, the runway itself extended over 400 meters, as revealed by Julien Da Costa’s Instagram post.