Thursday, June 27, 2013

Kelantan –the cradle of Malaysian culture

Located on the far north-eastern corner of Peninsular Malaysia, is the largely agrarian, rather rural state of Kelantan. The capital and royal seat of power of Kelantan is the city of Kota Bharu. Kelantan whose name translates as "Land of Lightning"  offers a bouquet of old-world rustic delights in the form of lush, green paddy fields, quaint fishing villages and miles of palm-fringed pristine beaches.
The people of Kelantan having been tucked away in a remote corner of the country have managed to keep age-old customs and traditions alive. Here classic Malaysian kites soar, shadow puppets enchant, bird-singing competitions and spinning giant tops delight the young and the old alike. The relative isolation of the state of Kelantan has bestowed upon its people, a unique way of life which differs from what is prevalent elsewhere in Malaysia. In Kelantan, the rich tradition of making exquisite handicrafts has not been destroyed by modern trends. Batik textile art, songket weaving, silverware and mengkuang fiber products still continue to be produced and much appreciated It is no wonder then Kelantan  still continues to be referred to as the ‘Cradle of Malay Culture’.
Prominent cultural attractions in Kelantan
Songket Weaving Centre
Songket, the opulent Malay ‘cloth of gold’, has its origins in the courts of Kelantan. If you would like to see how songket is produced, you could head out to a songket-weaving factory, which is located only 4km north of the city of Kota Bahru at Kampung Penambang. This factory creates yards of this rich fabric with gold and silver threads which originally used to be sourced from India.  Songket was once the exclusive domain of royalty but now the fabric is used for wedding attire and apparel for ceremonial occasions.

 Batik Textile Art
The art of Batik painting has long been associated states of eastern Malaysia like Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang. Historical records indicate that the art of Batik painting came to Malaysia during the reign of the Melayu Kingdom of Jambi during the 7th century. Evidence has been found which indicates the existence of   trading relations between this kingdom and various coastal batik producing centers in Java. Malaysian batik art uses a variety of methods including the stamp block method and the brush painting method for production. Batik apparel and lifestyle products are produced in various factories located in the many villages of Kelantan, like Kubor Kuda, Kampung Badang and Kampung Puteh.
These batik factories are usually open to the public daily from 8.30am to 5.30pm though they are shuttered on Fridays.
Handicraft Village and Craft Museum

The Handicraft Village and Craft Museum which is known locally as "Balai Getam Guri", is located in the heart of Kota Bahru. This Craft Museum showcases the rich Kelantan traditions of handicraft making. On display here, are several silverware, songket, batik textile art and woodcarving exhibits. The adjacent handicraft village offers visitors a chance to learn how these exquisite handicrafts are produced.
Various handicraft-making demonstrations are held at the handicraft village like songket weaving, batik painting, wood carving and silver work. Also located onsite is a restaurant that serves much traditional Kelantanese fare. The Craft Museum and Handicraft Village is open daily from 10.30am to 5.45pm though it is closed on Fridays.
Cultural Centre

At the Cultural Centre located behind the Craft Museum and Handicraft Village, tourists have the opportunity to enjoy a plethora of cultural performances that actually showcase the traditional past times and games of the Kelantan people from ages past. Wayang Kulit (Shadow puppetry) shows, Silat performances (the Malaysian art of self-defense), Gasing (top spinning) and Wau-flying performances are all on offer here at the cultural centre.
Islamic Museum / Syura Hall
Another cultural attraction of interest in Kota Bahru is the city’s Islamic Museum. The museum chronicles the Islamic heritage of Kelantan through its various exhibits, which include various artifacts and inscriptions.
The Islamic museum is open daily from 10.30 am to 5.45 pm excepting on Fridays.
These notable cultural attractions of Kelantan provide visitors with much insight as to why the state is still referred to as the ‘Cradle of Malay Culture’.

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