Malay Arts and Crafts

Malay Arts and Crafts

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his volume had been originally published by the Oxford University Press in 1972 under the title "Taman Indera: Malay Decorative Arts and Pastimes" and such was its popularity that it was reprinted in 1986.

Since its first publication, it had quickly established itself a classic work on Malay traditional crafts and art forms, remarkable for its extraordinary breadth and familiarity with the subject matter that could have come only from a dedicated observer of Malay leisure and pastime as the author was. It would be no exaggeration to advance the claim that the work was a pioneering one in its field, and rendered all the more valuable by the author's sustained interaction with surviving practitioners of these art forms, many of whom had already expired or retired from the field by the time the book first came out.

'After a historical introduction, the author presents his material in fifteen chapters, each devoted to one aspect of Malay decorative arts and pastimes. The author thus succeeds in dealing with various genres of performing arts, wood and metal work, ceremonies, costume, architecture, musical instruments, self-defence, weaponry and various pastimes such as top-spinning and kite-flying. The text is eminently readable and is enhanced by more than 180 excellent illustrations of which 83 are in colour.

The author is not writing as a scientist but rather as a connoisseur, seeking to share with as wide an audience as possible, the wealth of experience and knowledge he has acquired over several decades, and an excess of scholarly apparatus would defeat this purpose. It is to the author's credit that the bulk of information was gathered first-hand and there is much in this work that is seeing print for the first time.

' is greatly to his credit that he has focussed attention upon the culture of Patani. This area has been sadly neglected by most studies of Malay culture, and all too often the arts and crafts of the area are dismissed as being mere borrowings from the Thais. It is often forgotten that the political frontiers are no indication of the cultural boundaries between Malay and Thai and that Patani was, in the past, and to some extent still is, an important centre of Malay culture, possessing many distinctive features of its own and exerting no small influence upon the adjacent territories, not only to the south.'

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