One of the pleasures of visiting villages in the rural areas of Malaysia is to watch the playing of traditional games. It is even better to participate in one of the games. Some of the simpler games played by children come from nature, such as using red saga seeds as marbles, catching a wild spider to pit it against another spider, walking on “stilts” made of coconut shells, and using rubber seeds as conkers. However, there are many games that are also zealously played by adults that often hold spectators in awe.
Top spinning draws excited yells and shouts from both spectators and players. Strength, skill and physical dexterity are needed to launch a top, which is as big as a Frisbees and weighing as much as five kilogrames. Tops are normally of two popular designs. The gasing jantung is heart-shaped while the gasing uri is flattened in shape. There are two types of competitions: endurance and knockout. In the endurance competition, the gasing uri is launched and, once spinning, it is scooped up with a small wooden paddle. It is then transferred onto a small post and allowed to spin. The winner is the top which spins the longest – sometimes it can spin for two hours. In a knockout competition, a player tries to knock another player’s spinning top outside a circle using his own top. The ropes used for launching a top are different for each of its function. To maximize its spin, the rope is usually long and thin; while a top used for striking is usually spun using a thick and short rope. The execution of a launch by a master top spinner is done in fluid but powerful movements. Tops are usually made of the merbau and afzella trees, and top-making requires great skill. Top-spinning competitions are often organised on a state, national and international level. Brunei, Indonesia, Vietnam, Taiwan, Thailand and Japan are among the keen participants in top-spinning competitions.
Kite flying can be seen throughout the country though it is more popular in the East Coast, where farmers fly them on the levelled paddy fields after a harvest. A kite usually measure 1.7 metres in height and 1.5 metres from tip to tip of its wing. The most popular shape of the kite is the crescent moon (wau bulan) though other shapes are also found, which are abstract versions of animals such as cat, peacock, hawk, fish, eagle and quail. The tail of a kite is decorated with tassels while a bow is often attached across its neck. When the kite is flown, the bow produces a high-pitched humming noise. The bow is simply a strip of ribbon stretched over a strip of bamboo. A kite, is made of bamboo strips and foil paper, and its artwork is usually formalised by tradition. For instance, a required element in traditional design is to have a large central flower or “ibu” in the centre of the kite; furthermore, vines must emanate from the base of the kite and connect logically.
Two types of kite flying competitions are in vogue:…