Thursday, August 15, 2013

Learning about traditional Malay woodcarving at Akademi Nik Rashiddin.

Last week, somewhere in Bachok, we found a hidden gem. We visited Akademi Nik Rashiddin. A woodcarving institute. I got in touch with Puan Rosnawati and arranged for a guided tour. We were lucky. They were closing for Raya Holiday the following day.

Lot 225 Kampung Kandis, 16310 Bachok.
If you are using GPS, look for Villa Danialla Beach Resort. It's nearby.
Fees; $20 (Adult) and $10 (children).
The late Nik Rashiddin Nik Hussein, Pn Rosna's late husband was a master carver. Wood carving was his personal hobby that turned into a passion. Towards the later part of his life, he focused his time on carving the keris hilts.

We started the tour with the gallery. There are display of the works of the late Nik Rashiddin.
Puan Rosna was an architect by training. She speaks very fluent English. And she's very knowledgable.
I can sense her pride when she's talking about her late husband's works. Oh well, who wouldn't. Just look at this delicate and fine workmanship of his. I think our amateur photography skill didn't really do justice to the masterpiece.

And there are lots of interesting historical wooden artefacts collected by the late Nik Rashiddin over the years. Collected and carefully restored.

A replica of Gagak Sura, a mythical bird used for the special ceremony for the royalties.
The next place we visited was the museum, which is a 189 years old restored Malay house from Terengganu. 
I found it really interesting when I learned from Puan Rosna that her late husband almost single handedly restored the house (i.e figured out which piece goes to where) despite having no back ground in architecture. That's a talent.
There are more artefacts in the museum. All with their own stories.
 Puan Rosna explained to us the Langkasuka motifs. And the history of Langkasuka.
Akademi Nik Rashiddin has also published a few books. I bought this activity book and it's such a great introduction not only to woodcarving, but also Malay culture in general.
 I should have buy more copies. The book was really nicely done.
We really enjoyed this educational tour. As usual, Mr O and me were intrigued more than the kids...ha3. Kids have limited attention span. There's only so much they can take about history and woodcarving. And they get distracted with other things. Like exploring :-P
I think we spent almost 2 hours touring the academy. We learned loads from Puan Rosna. Not only about woodcarving. She shared with us so much information on history, botany and timber, myths and tales of Malay folklore etc etc. It was very enlightening to say the least. I highly recommend this tour. I really hope the academy will continue their great work. The academy is an NGO.

Just like Pak Shafie the wau maker and Pak Dain the shadow puppet (wayang kulit) maker, these people are continuing the legacy solely due to their passion. Funded by their own personal money. I am not sure how long they will last. But I hope they do last for more generations to come. Please support them so they can continue this legacy for the sake of our culture. It's a dying legacy.