Malay headdress maker wants to save the art from fading awayBy JAYAGANDI JAYARAJTHE tradition of wearing the Tengkolok or the Malay headdress dates back to the times of the Malay sultanate.
Back then the headdress for men was a status symbol.
Only the rich wore it and more prominently it was part of the royal costume.
There were specially appointed skilled artisans to make Tengkolok for the Sultans in the palace.
The designs and shapes varied from state to state and each shape was folded in semblance of animals or abstract ideas, hence names like Lang Patah Sayap (eagle with broken wings), Ayam Patah Kepak (rooster with broken wings), Dendam Tak Sudah (unfinished business), Gajah Berjuang (elephants fighting) and Menyonsong Again (facing the wind).
Today the Tengkolok remains as part of the royal ensemble.
What the commoners wear are designs with a twist or have been modified from the original designs. They cannot wear the same designs worn by royalties,¡± said Tengkolok maker Nik Hamid Nik Mustafa.
The 54-year-old's interest in the art started off 30 years ago while he was still in Kelantan, dancing for a cultural troop.
Not the same type: the shape of the tengkolok @ tanjak varies from state to state
as seen here.
While in the group, we had to make our Tengkolok and that's how it started off.
But there was no one to teach me. The one or two teachers that I discovered later had passed on too.
So what I did was research. When I came down to Kuala Lumpur in 1975, I researched on photographs of various designs and through trial and error worked on getting it right and perfect,¡± said Nik Hamid who is working at the Seri Jemari Songket in Wangsa Melawati, Kuala Lumpur.
Using Songket and other materials including cotton, Nik Hamid is an expert Tengkolok maker who had created headdresses for weddings, royal events and dancers in Istana Budaya. Before the discovery of Songket, Hamid said the Tengkolok was made from Indian materials and Chinese silk while the commoners used ordinary materials.
Tengkoloks were made using Songket only about 200 years ago,he said as he demonstrated how to make a Tengkolok.
Settling on a Dendam Tak Sudah design, Nik Hamid began his folding works expertly as two young learners Nik Haslan Hassan, 20, and Noor Shah Rizal, 21, watched enthusiastically.
The 31 X 31 Songket that Nik Hamid used was earlier starched and folded into two to form a triangle shape with hard collar paper in between before it was ironed and stitched at the sides.
Originally 45 X 45 material was used for Tengkoloks.
With that you begin to fold it to the design that you want. It is not easy as you need to insert the wires at the right fold in order to keep the tengkolok in a particular shape.
You also have to be careful with the needle as it goes through the hard paper. I have had needles go through my fingers many times while stitching.
Young learners: (From right) Nik Haslan and Noor Shah looking at Nik Hamid expertly folding a tengkolok.
Thats why you dont see women making Tengkolok. It requires physical strength too, he said adding that it took him 15 years to perfect his folding skills.
Compared to those days, Nik Hamid said there were more creative Tengkolok designers these days and these Tengkoloks were made to last longer depending on its usage.
In an effort to preserve the art from dying, Nik Hamid is planning on getting a research fund from the Museum and Antiquity department to do a detailed research on the art from state to state.
After which, he planned to produce a demonstration CD on various styles of making the Tengkolok.
Otherwise, this art will slowly fade off,¡± he said.
- The Star -Tengkolok @ Tanjak @ Destar - Folded Head-dress
The "tengkolok" is an essential feature of the Malay ceremonial attire for men and is sculptured from woven songket cloth, As the design reflects the status of the wearer, particular styles are created for the different ranks of people. The style is given a name such as "helang menyusur angin", a style depicting a eagle in flight as in this exhibit.Kris
The "Kris" is a cultured artifact with the blade crafted in metal and teh sheath in wood often embellished with silver or gold work to enhance its aesthetic form. It symbolises power and authority. The "kris" forms part of the full traditional ceremonial attire.
Sources : 2004 February 22 BERITA MINGGU (Tanjak dan Songkok)