Category Archives: Malaysian Culture

Malay Alphabet – Malay Culture for Kids


When Islam arrived in southeast Asia during the 14th century, the Arabic script was adapted to write the Malay language. In the 17th century, under influence from the Dutch and British, the Arabic script was replaced by the Latin alphabet.

Arabic alphabet for Malay

Malay (Jawi) abjad

Latin alphabet for Malay (and Pronunciation)

A a B b C c D d E e F f G g H h I i
e bi si di i ef ji hec ai
J j K k L l M m N n O o P p Q q R r
je ke el em en ou pi kiu ar
S s T t U u V v W w X x Y y Z z
es ti yu vi dabel
yu
eks wai zed

abc-in-post

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Malaysian Travel Destinations – Malaysian Culture for Kids


Malaysia offers two very distinct experiences: the peninsula and Borneo (an island shared with Indonesia and Brunei). The peninsula is a mix of Malay, Chinese and Indian flavors with the modern capital of Kuala Lumpur. Malaysian Borneo features a jungle with wild animals like orangutans, granite peaks and remote tribes. About 2 million tourists visit the area each year. Most of them are citizens from neighboring countries like Singapore and Indonesia.

 

Cameron Highlands

Cameron Highlands

The Cameron Highlands was first developed by the British in the 1920s. It has a population of more than 34,000 people consisting of Malays, Chinese, Indians and other ethnic groups. The Cameron Highlands is known for its trails through the jungles. You can see waterfalls, tea plantations and tea factories.

Georgetown

Georgetown


Named after Britain’s King George III, Georgetown is located on the northeast corner of Penang Island. Most of the population is of Chinese origin. You can see the colonial style shops and unique architecture.

Taman Negara

Taman Negara

Taman Negara means “national park” in Malay. Taman Negara is one of the oldest tropical rain forests in the world. It is home to endangered species such as the Asian elephant, tigers, leopards and rhinos. You can see many birds, small deer, lizards, snakes and maybe even a tapir.

Tioman

Tioman

Tioman is a small island located off the east coast of Malaysia. The island is surrounded by many white coral reefs making it a great place for scuba diving. The island is forested and highly visited during November through February. At other times, the island has very few tourists.

 

Mount Kinabalu

Mount Kinabalu

With a summit height of 4,095 meters (13,435 feet), Mount Kinabalu is the highest mountain in Borneo. The mountain is known throughout the world for its different plants and animal species. Over 600 species of ferns, 326 species of birds, and 100 different mammals have been identified here. The main peak of the mountain can be climbed easily by a person in “good” physical condition. It does not require any mountaineering equipment. However, climbers must be accompanied by a guide at all times.

 

Petronas Twin Towers

Petronas Twin Towers


The Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur were the world’s tallest buildings before being surpassed in 2004 by Taipei 101. However, the towers are still the tallest twin buildings in the world. The 88-floor towers are constructed out of concrete with a steel and glass facade designed to resemble motifs found in Islamic art and Muslim religion. There is a sky bridge between the two towers.

 

Langkawi

Langkawi

Langkawi is an archipelago of 99 islands in the Andaman Sea. The islands are a part of the state of Kedah which is adjacent to the Thai border. Pulau Langkawi is the largest of the islands with a population of about 65,000. The only other island with people living on it is the nearby island of Pulau Tuba. The islands have white beaches. Inland, there are jungle-covered hills and mountain peaks.

 

Perhentian Islands

Perhentian Islands

These islands are located off the coast of northeastern Malaysia not far from the Thai border. They have some of the world’s most beautiful beaches, as well as the waters offer an assortment of places to dive. The two main islands are Perhentian Besar (“Big Perhentian”) and Perhentian Kecil (“Small Perhentian”). Both of these islands have white sandy beaches and palm trees overlooking the turquoise sea.

 

Sepilok Rehabilitation Center

Sepilok Rehabilitation Center

The rehabilitation center opened in 1964 for helping the orphaned baby orangutans from logging sites, plantations and illegal hunting. These rescued orangutans are trained to survive again in the wild and are released when ready to do so into a reserve area. Today, there are about 60-80 orangutans living free.

 

The Mulu Caves

The Mulu Caves

The Mulu Caves are located in the Gunung Mulu National Park in Borneo. The park has caves and rock formations in a mountainous rainforest setting. The Sarawak chamber in one of the underground caves is the largest cave chamber in the world. It is so large that it is estimated that it can hold about 40 Boeing 747s without overlapping their wings! You can also see a huge colony of bats explore for food at night.

Malaysian Children’s Songs


malayyyMany of the children songs have words that talk about animals and birds.  There are songs that talk about things children do in the day.  Popular clapping songs, movement, finger plays and rhyme accompany the songs.  Shadow puppets help tell some children’s stories.  Shadow puppets are a traditional way to tell stories using shadows.

Mana Kuching?

Where is the Cat?

Lagu tiga kupang

Song of the Three Cents

Kalau Rasa Gembira Tepuk Tangan

If You’re Happy and You Know It, Clap Your Hands

Bangau Oh Bangau

Egret, Oh Egret

Chan Mali Chan

Chan Mali Chan (a folk song)

Burung Kakak tua

Cuckatoo, Oh Cuckatoo

Bangun pagi

Wake Up

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Malaysian Traditional Music and Instruments – Malaysian Culture for Kids


Malay traditional music is associated with the traditional theatre forms such as Mak Yong, Wayang Kulit, Joget Gamelan, Hadrah, Dabus, Kuda Kepang, Gendang Kling, Mek Mulung, and additional entertainment activities. This type of music is based on either the pentatonic 5-tone or heptatonic 7-tone scales. It is performed mainly by groups of instruments which include combinations of four types of instruments:

Aerophone (wind instruments) such as the serunai, pinai, seruling and selumprit flutes:

Serunai

Serunai

Membranophone (drum-sounds produced by membrane-covered musical instruments) such as the gendang, geduk, gedombak, rebana, kompang, tar and jidor drums:

Gendang

Gendang

Idiophone (percussion instruments of fixed immovable surface) such as gong, kesi, canag, saron, kenong, gambang kayu, boning:

Gambang kayu

Gambang kayu

Chordophone (string instruments) such as the rebab:

Rebab

Rebab

malay dance 2

The basic element in traditional music is the drum (gendang).  There are at least 14 types, four of which are beaten without the accompaniment of any other musical instrument (i.e. the rebana besar, rebana ubi, kompang and tar).  The rebab is a type of three-stringed violin played in the Mak Yong dance-drama. Other musical instruments played during the Mak Yong performance are the gendang and gong.

malay dance

The nobat is a special royal orchestra consisting of usually four or five people using the flute, trumpet, gong and drums. This type of orchestra performs during state ceremonies. The Wayang Kulit music is another type of music popular in the Malay community. Music is very important in the performance of the wayang kulit because it helps tell the story by making it more interesting. The wayang kulit orchestra usually consists of 12 instruments.

There is also music that accompanies traditional dances such as Tarian Asyik and other Malay folk dances.   Gamelan music is a form of traditional music widely performed in Malaysia during ceremonial occasions. The instruments used include gongs, xylophones and a cylindrical drum.

There are other forms of traditional music in Sabah and Sarawak. The Kadazans and Dayaks like to play the gong. There are four types of gongs:  the Tawag-tawag, cenang, gong agung and tenukol. There are many types of flutes made from bamboo. The Kadazans play a two-stringed guitar called sundalang and a trumpet-like instrument made from pumpkin and bamboo called the sumputon.

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Malaysian Names – Malaysian Culture for Kids


Malaysian Boy The Malaysian Chinese are the only large ethnic group in Malaysia to use family names.  Most other groups use a personal name and then a

Malaysian Girlpatronym name.   For men, the patronym consists of the title bin (from So, if Osman has a son called Musa, Musa will be known as Musa bin Osman. For women, the patronym consists of the title binti (from Arabic بنت, meaning ‘daughter of’) followed by her father’s name. So, if Musa has a daughter called Aisyah, Aisyah will be known as Aisyah binti Musa. Upon marriage, a woman does not change her name, as is done in many cultures.Arabic بن, meaning ‘son of’) followed by his father’s personal name.

Traditionally Malay names were taken from other languages:

Malay, for example Kiambang, Mayang or Tuah

Khmer, Siamese or Cham, for example Tam, Som or Lai

Javanese, for example Ratnasari, Joyo or Kesuma

Sanskrit or Pali, for example Wira, Darma or Wati

Arabic names are popular. In addition, names form other languages are also used and include:

Persian, for example Jehan, Mirza or Shah

Greek or Latin, for example Maria, Marina or Johana

English, for example Tiara, Orked or Ros

Some names are taken from public figures around the world.  The majority of Malay males have Mohammad or Muhammad (after the founder of Islam) as their first name.

A few Malay families use surnames such as Tengku, Megat, Nik, Wan, Raja and Che.  Other common surnames include Sayid or Syed, and Teuku.  It is common to take two or three first names.   The Malaysian Chinese use traditional Chinese names of usually three words.  The first name is the Chinese family name.

Boys’ and Girls’ Names

Following are the 25 most popular boys’ and girls’ names for parents in Malay to name their children:

Boys’ Names:  Muhamad, Adam, Rayyan, Ahmad, Daniel, Darwish, Umar, Haziq, Irfan, Zikri, Aqil, Harith, Hakim, Aqif, Hadif, Ammar, Danish, Aidan, Jayden, Ashraff, Alif, Ariff, Syshmi, Isaac and Amsyar

Girls’ Names:  Nur (Nor or Noor), Zara, Hannah, Damia, Sophia, Alicia, Aishah, Humaira, Batrisyia, Safiyyah, Sarah, Iris, Alya, Adrianna, Amani, Keisha, Arissa, Balqis, Qistina, Arianna, Qaisara, Khalisha, Chloe, Marissa and Mia

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Malaysian History – Malaysian Culture for Kids


The Buddhist Kingdom of Srivijaya ruled Malaysia from the 9th-13th centuries.  Then the Hindu Kingdom of Majapahit took over.  The state of Malacca ruled by a Muslim prince ruled afterwards.  This is when Islam spread throughout the area. The first Europeans to arrive were the Portuguese. They took over Malacca in 1511 and then controlled the area for over 100 years. The Dutch in 1641, followed by the British in 1795 were the next conquerors. The British helped to develop some of the important industries this region has today.  The

malaymoney

production of rubber and tin were started by the British. Malaysia was occupied by Japan during World War II. Soon after the war, the country began to

move towards independence. In 1957, several of the British territories on the Malay Peninsula formed the Federation of Malaya. Malaysia was also formed and became a separate independent country in 1963.  Malaysia is a democratic monarchy. A Parliament helps run the country.

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Malaysian Games – Malaysian Culture for kids


There are many different kinds of martial arts.  Silat and Tomoi (a form of kickboxing) are traditional, popular versions.

Kite flying (wau-flying) is a traditional game. Competitions take place with judges giving out awards for craftsmanship.  Some kites are made to make a sound as they are pulled to fly in the air.

Sepak raga has been played for hundreds of years.  The players stand in a circle and kick a rattan ball using any part of their body except the arms and hands.  The goal is to keep the ball in the air.  Sepak raga is Malaysia’s national sport and it is even played in international sporting events such as the Asian Games and Southeast Asian Games.

Gasing is also popular.  You spin a top and see how long it spins.  Some players get their tops to spin for more than two hours!

The board game of Congkak is a version of the mancala game, which was invented in Egypt.  You move stones, marbles, beads or shells around a wooden board with 12 or more holes.

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