Special Issue of Postage Stamps on Traditional Games of Malaysia
Date of Issue: 1982-10-30
Denominations: 10 cents, 15 cents, and 75 cents
Stamp Size: 31.75 mm x 48.26 mm
Paper: White coated unwatermarked security stamp paper
Printing Process: Offset Lithography
Printer: Messrs. John Waddington of Kirkstall Ltd., England
Sheet Composition: 100 stamps
Designer: Ajib N.S., Kuala Lumpur
Stamps in Series:
First Day Cover:
Special Issue of Stamps
In continuing its program to issue two special issues yearly in addition to the normal commemorative stamps, the Postal Services Department will be issuing two specials for 1982. These special issues will cover various local themes to provide a panoramic view of Malaysia, her people and their cultures. The theme for the first issue for 1982 is on ‘Traditional Games of Malaysia’.
Traditional Games of Malaysia
Traditional games are a creative expression of play in a society. Some, such as cock-fighting even though they are apparently amusing can have deep effects upon the players. Most however, are light leisure time activities. Some of the common traditional games are tuai (a tag game), congkak (a game of change traditionally played with tamarind seeds), jengkek (reminiscent of hop-scotch), lambung kling (a juggling game with lime stones) and kaunda-kaundi (an Indian form of baseball). Sepak raga bulat demands highly skilled footwork and a cooperative and communal spirit, although its recent variant, sepak takraw can be fiercely competitive. Three of the most prominent Malaysian traditional games – kite flying, top spinning and shadow play – have won international recognition for their cultural and artistic values.
The stamps are issued in 3 denominations as follows:
10c – the design in full color depicts shadow play on a stage. The wordings and denomination are in black and white.
15c – the design in full color shows the cross top being played. The wordings and denomination are in white.
75c – the design depicts the kite and is in multicolor while the wordings and denomination are in black.
Local name – WAYANG KULIT
English translations – SHADOW PLAY
Four types of wayang kulit or shadow play namely wayang gedek (Kedah), Wayang Jawa or Purwa (Johor), Wayang Melayu and Wayang Kelantan have been identified in Malaysia. Although the performances are basically similar, they are distinguished from each other by the differing iconography and iconometry or their puppets, the nature of their musical ensemble and sometimes by their repertory of stories. The Malaysian shadow theatre illuminates the complex art of the ‘dalang’. He is a puppeteer, often making his own puppets, an actor, singer, indeed a dramatist, leader of the musical ensemble and a shaman. Depending on the regional tradition of the ‘dalang’, one or two arms of the puppets might be articulated, although the clowns, sages and commoners are invariably endowed with moveable mouths as well.
In formal circumstances, shadow theatre performances are held at night, to celebrate various occasions and at times like this shadow theatre becomes more than just a performance, it is a social event. Performances in Kelantan, the most lively of the Malaysian shadow theatre regions, are also staged during festivals and fairs. During the performances many realities operate and act upon each other – the musicians, the ‘dalang’, the puppets and the shadows – to make the event for the audience. Other realities, not directly related to the performance, might also sometimes viewed with as much clarity and concreteness as the performance itself.
As a shadow play lasts between 3 to 4 hours it is too long for an intense and concentrated viewing and thus no member of the audiences sees all of the performance. Further, the story is known and shared by all as part of their communal history. Not the play, therefore, but the performance is central to the event and even during the performance, the attention of the audience is selective.
Local name – GASING PANGKAH
English translation – CROSS TOP
Top spinning is an adult’s game and the Cross Top has come a long way. Once it was confined to small rural communities only but today it is quite a popular sport throughout the whole country. The rules of play differed from place to place but now there is a common agreement as to how the game should be played.
The Cross Top comes in various sizes and normally vary in size from place to place. However, the Cross Top is normally between 11.5 cm to 15.5 cm in height and 7.5 cm in diameter and is normally made out of various Malaysian hardwoods.
The Cross Top is played by winding a cord around the top and the top is released with a jerk which sends the top spinning on the ground. Top spinning requires great accuracy and good judgment. Competitions are held in villages and one can see the skill involved and these competitions are always gala occasions, normally with the full turnout of the villages.
Local name – WAU
English translation – KITE
There are various types of kites and designs like leafy clouds, bamboo shoots, the moon, the cat, etc., which reveal the artistic talent and the cultural symbols of the community which designs the kite. Each kite normally consists of the head, the body, wings, the tailpiece and an appropriate length of white string. Normally these kites are multi-colored and are very attractive, especially while in the air. During the kite flying season it is usually windy and to launch a kite it normally takes 2 persons and the launcher walks for a distance between 13 meters to 23 meters from his assistant who carries the kite. The assistant will let go of the kite at a signal from the launcher and the kite is blown upwards usually up to about 30 meters and thereafter the launcher plays the kite usually allowing to settle between 120 to 150 meters in the air.
During kite flying seasons competitions are normally held between various villages or between towns and here one can see the various intricate designs of the kites in eye-catching colors. Competitions are held normally for the skill in handling a kite and also to determine which kite flies the highest.