Shadows introduces art of ‘wayang kulit’ to children

Malaysia has a wealth of culture and heritage, but local traditional art is in danger of being neglected, especially by the new generation, says Kakiseni chief.

weaved into children’s stories through Shadows, the Hikayat series of children’s books aimed at getting the young generation interested in the traditional art.

Initiated by Kakiseni and MPH Publishing, Shadows which draws on the art of Kelantan’s “wayang kulit”, is a medium to bring this art to a wider audience and get a new generation to participate in keeping these forms of art alive.

Kakiseni president Low Ngai Yuen said Malaysia had a wealth of culture and heritage, yet the local traditional art was in danger of being neglected, especially by the new generation.

“To ensure its survival, we need to inject new life into this traditional art by giving it new mediums and platforms so that it can be shared and appreciated.

“We aim to spread this love for the art to more young Malaysians through the medium of storybooks like Shadows,” she told reporters after the launch of the Shadows Children’s Book here today.

Written by Maya Zaharudin and illustrated by Shukardi Shufitri, this book tells the tale of young Adam, a boy who finds himself in a “wayang kulit” world of shadow and light, and must use his wits and courage to help a prince defeat monsters and recover a surprising treasure.

Low said, with advice and guidance from traditional art practitioners, Kakiseni worked with local authors and illustrators on Shadows as a way to introduce traditional performing arts to children through stories that would appeal to their sense of wonder and curiosity.

“To add authenticity to the wayang kulit elements, Shadows worked closely with Kamarul Baisah Hussin, a practising ‘Tok Dalang’ (master puppeteer) who is also a lecturer at the National Academy of Arts, Culture and Heritage Malaysia (Aswara).

“We also worked with Kamarul Baihaqi, Kamarul Baisah’s six-year-old son, to perform the storyline of Shadows through a ‘wayang kulit’ show to the children in several workshops and road shows held at primary schools around the Klang Valley,” she said.

Meanwhile, National Culture and Arts Department director-general Norliza Rofli said the traditional art reflected the shared heritage of Malaysians, which shaped their cultural identity.

“It is important to introduce it to a younger generation to inspire and enrich them with these stories and art forms,” she said




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