The “WOW” Wau!!!

Acknowledgement

I would like to dedicate this article to:

~ Dadajee, for bringing Wau Bulan into my life!

~ Na Yas, for igniting the fire of art back in me & making me realise the importance of culture!

~ Mrs Mom, for your guidance & endless support!

and my fellow Kelantanese…

The History of Wau

Wau (pronounced wow) is a type of traditional Malaysian kite and is seen almost everywhere in Malaysia. The Wau has been flown by the Malays since the 15th Century until today. The common townspeople first started flying it before the news got to the royal family.

A Malay kite is a combination of the best of skilled workmanship, dazzling colours and decoration. It shows the creativity of the Malays and their talented craftsmanship. Some people believe that the word ‘Wau’ came from the Arabic letter ‘Wau’ because one of the Wau’s wings looks like the outline of the particular letter. According to a funnier story, when the first Westerners visited Malaysia and set eyes on the kites in the sky, they shouted “Wow!” and the name had stuck ever since.

Wau can come in many different sizes and is traditionally flown by men. A Wau normally has a stringed bow attached to it and when it is flown, it makes a soft, wailing sound. The average height of a Wau would be at least 3.5 metres, which is as big as a man! Some of the kites are so big that they need two grown up men to handle them! It is definitely not a schoolboy’s toy due to it’s size. The Wau looks fascinating when the sun’s rays touch it for it makes it’s colours shine.

In the past, kite flying was a seasonal event and was held after the harvest of rice. They would usually be flown over the paddy or rice fields. According to a folk story, farmers would fly the Wau at night to lull their children to sleep, making it easier for them to work. Another story says that farmers used the Wau as a scarecrow to prevent birds from eating their crops. Some kite makers also leave a Wau flying and fall asleep to the humming sound that it makes. Rumour has it that if a Wau is flown, it will bring the spirit of wind and sky.

Based on my research, a Wau is usually flown by two people at a time. One person will hold the Wau while the other person called the ‘juru anjung’ or the controller will hold the rope. The juru anjung will pull the strings for a short period of time until the Wau is successfully flown.

Variations of Wau

There is a vast range of Wau in different parts of Malaysia. The most common one is called ‘Wau Bulan’ which means ‘Moon Kite’. The Wau Bulan is originally from Kelantan, one of the states in Malaysia. Some other ones are also called:

WAU PUYUH.jpg

WAU PUYUH (QUAIL KITE) KELANTAN

WAU DODO HELANG

WAU DODO HELANG (EAGLE’S CHEST KITE) TERENGGANU

WAU JALABUDI

WAU JALA BUDI (WOMAN KITE) KEDAH

WAU HELANG

WAU HELANG (EAGLE KITE) PERLIS

WAU MERAK.jpg

WAU MERAK (PEACOCK KITE) JOHOR

WAU KUCING.jpg

WAU KUCING (CAT KITE)

WAU KAPAL.jpg

WAU KAPAL (BOAT KITE)

WAU DAUN

WAU DAUN (LEAF KITE)

And lots more beautiful kites that rule the skies…

Although Wau comes in all shapes and sizes, the motifs and designs are versatile to one another. The Wau creator brings out the variety of patterns and vibrant colours through the use of flora and fauna motifs that would definitely amaze anyone who sees it.

Wau Bulan

Wau Bulan (Moon Kite) is the most popular and favourite type of Wau in the Malay community. It is an intricately designed Wau mainly with floral motifs. If you look at the shape of the Wau Bulan properly, the lower section of the Wau looks like a crescent moon. Therefore, it was called “Wau Bulan”. Given the right colour, when flown, Wau Bulan apparently resembles a rising crescent moon. Another reason why the society referred to it as Wau Bulan is because of its appearance which is like the moon flying high and its size which is definitely larger than any other kite. This makes the decorations painted on the body to be visible when it is flown high in the air. To make it more distinctive, Wau Bulan is normally decorated with large, strong-coloured patterns.

Apart from that, the popularity of Wau Kucing (Cat Kite) is comparable to Wau Bulan. Obviously, it has got its nickname through the resemblance of the kite with a cat. The bow will be mounted on top of the Wau Kucing so that it will release a loud humming sound like a cat when it flies in the air. According to the myth, Wau Kucing is believed to have the power to scare away evil spirits and it could predict the weather forecast too.

WAU KUCING.jpg

WAU KUCING & IT’S MAKER

Do you know the Malaysia Airline System’s logo? Well, if you look carefully at it, you can see that they have featured a Wau in it! The type of Wau was the Wau Kucing. It’s a rather clever way to represent their country, through the country’s airline system’s logo! The Wau itself was shown in a very attractive way. It was a background for the actual name of the airline. It also used the country’s flag’s colours. That must be the reason why Malaysia Airlines is known throughout the world.

MAS LOGO.png

Wau Bulan is so popular that there is a folk song dedicated to it which is called Ewau Bule. It is normally sung in Dikir Barat style. (If I were to describe Dikir Barat, I would say that it’s a kind of traditional Malaysian style rap.) The Ewau Bule song depicts Wau as a rich, cultural heritage of the Malay community and together, both Wau and the art of Dikir Barat music are steeped in Malay tradition. They may look like a kite but the creation of Wau is much more complicated and delicate. Complimenting the song, “teraju tiga” or the three joined strings to each edge on the kite are synonymous with the Wau Bulan or moon-shaped kite which magnificently flies through the open sky. There are many versions of this popular song but this particular one which is the most latest, sung by Iwere featuring Noraniza Idris is my favourite.

Wau Bulan is one of Malaysia’s national symbols, some others being the Kris (Traditional Malaysian Dagger) and Hibiscus (Traditional Malaysian Flower). I’m sure that everyone from Malaysia knows this but on the reverse side of the fifty-cent coin of Malaysia (1989 series) features an intricately decorated Wau Bulan with a hummer on top. Not only that, at the back of Malaysian one Ringgit banknote, the Wau Bulan is also depicted in it. It is very clear that this country tries it’s best to send the message of their tradition around the world. They put their most important and most beloved thing that they have in their country and start showing it in airline logos, songs, coins, banknotes, stamps and many other things. Thanks to all their hard work, Malaysia has made the whole world know about their traditional kite which we now all adore.

Wau Bulan and Me

Wau Bulan and me, it was love at first sight! I can still remember the excitement whenever my best buddy Dadajee (my maternal grandpa) came over to visit me every year. With him, he would always bring presents and gifts for me. But I will never forget that particular year when he came with a strange package. It was fairly big and was inside a box that he had made himself. The box was specially made so that the contents inside would not get damaged. The shape of the surprise was a bit quirky and it looked weird to me. I just couldn’t guess what was inside. I was very sure though that it will be something that I would like. Then, Dadajee opened it for me and revealed not one but TWO Wau Bulan! He then said “You see these, Little Pawsome Lion? Well they’re Wau Bulan! There’s one for you and one for your school!” That’s when I met my love at first sight.

FullSizeRender.jpg

The colour of the Wau Bulan that I chose for myself was a very bright red with other vibrant colours and lots of swirly and detailed patterns. And from what I can remember, the other one which I chose for my old school (Moseley) was a blueish colour with lots of patterns too. I purposely chose the other one for my school because the colour was similar to the school logo. It looked like it was specially made for them.

At first, I didn’t know what Wau or Wau Bulan was until Dadajee told me about it. He even gave me one as a present! I would like to thank my Dadajee because he was the one who brought Wau Bulan into my life. The only downside was that it wasn’t real because when my grandpa opened it, I asked him, “Where’s the string, Dadajee? We can’t fly it without that!” So then he said, “Sorry little Pawsome Lion, it’s only a model! The real one is too big to be brought by aeroplane. It’s man-sized so how would I possibly bring it from Kelantan to England!” That news didn’t effect me that much. I was so grateful to my grandpa because it would be anyone’s dream to receive a Wau Bulan as a present and my dream came true! I still have the wau today! If you see mine then you’ll think that it’s just like the real Wau Bulan!

IMG_0656.JPG

Well, that was many years ago. When I moved to my new school in May, the first project that I had to undergo was to produce a piece of artwork for the Art and Design Day! The best piece of artwork would win a prize and would be displayed on the wall in school. I didn’t know what to make as I haven’t been creative for a while. All I knew was that I wanted to show my new school something which represents me the best. I kept thinking and thinking until Mrs Mom reminded me of the love of my life! That’s it!‘ I thought. I figured out that if I had the right resources – PVA glue, buttons, paper and a traditional Malaysian batik sarong – I could make a collage of a Wau Bulan in a jiffy!

So, Mrs Mom kindly gave me her traditional Malaysian batik sarong and Mr Dad also gave me one of his canvases. I then sketched the outline of the Wau Bulan on the blank canvas. Then, I cut out small pieces of batik sarong to be pasted on the canvas. I also used some buttons from my art box. When I finished, Mrs Mom brought out a bamboo skewer which she normally used to make chicken satay from the kitchen. When I saw that, my idea bulb suddenly turned on! What could be a better way than to finish off my artwork using the bamboo skewer as a hummer for my Wau Bulan? Now, my Wau Bulan collage looked real and outstanding! The best part of all this was when I received the Art Achievement Award for my first Wau Bulan! Until today, my artwork was displayed on the wall in my school alongside some other pieces of artwork, where everyone could see it.

So, that was supposed to be my first and last piece of artwork for 2015 until one sweet day, I met a great artist from Bristol which inspired me to pursue my arty side. Not only that, she also made me realise how important culture is. She is 1/2 Persian and 1/2 Thai. She is called Yasaman Haghighat! She is very kind and supportive. It’s like I’ve known her for years. I call her Na Yas which means Auntie Yas in Thai language. I also found out that she made lots of different types of art that had a cross between Persian things and Thai things through a blog, http://www.sirinyas-thailand.de

She included a lot of detail in her pictures and you could see everything that she did. She didn’t just paint on paper and canvases, she also painted on coffee tables, bowls, fans, coffee coasters and heaven knows what else. Anyway, I found out that she liked to draw and paint mythical creatures and she made a lot of pictures, kinda like Caroline Jariwala.

So I thought, ‘I like to make arty things and I’ve already made a Wau Bulan. And, if I look at Caroline Jariwala, she made 89 individually sculptured owls! So, if I can manage to make what I did last time, and this time multiple times, I can one day be like Caroline Jariwala or Na Yas!’. So, I gathered the resources that I had last time and started making it. Unfortunately, it got a bit messy and there was glue all over the place!

Choc-a-lot! A Tribute to Chocolate…

When I was thinking of the idea for my second piece of artwork, I thought, “What could be better than to keep the Wau Bulan as a symbol to represent my identity?” I also thought that it would be great to stick with the collage technique. Since our theme at school for this term was the Aztecs and I recently wrote an article about chocolate, I believed that it would be a great idea to produce a piece of artwork as a tribute to chocolate!

My second Wau Bulan was made out of…CHOCOLATE WRAPPERS!!!!! (now my pantry is filled with chocolate!) The brands of chocolate that I used were Mars, Twix, Kit Kat, Snickers, Galaxy and Cadbury Dairy Milk Caramel. So, what I did was take the chocolate and then I carefully tore open the wrappers so that it wasn’t ripped. Then, I cut the wrappers in a particular shape so that I could stick it onto the outline of the Wau. After that, when everything was covered, I stuck on the extra bits like the bamboo skewer, which was the hummer, some Kit Kat foil, gold chocolate wrapping as the ruffles on the side and a bunch of other things…

Hard Work Does Pay Off!

What makes hard work pay off? It’s none other than support from other people around you, appreciation and also the recognition from them. Other than that, the ability to motivate other people through your hard work is the most important of all. As usual, when Hazel saw my second piece of artwork, they all gasped and said “Wow!”

I also grabbed the chance to show it to the Senior Leadership Team. I brought it to Miss Prince (Acting Vice Principal), Mr Shephard (Acting Exec Principal), Miss Stringer (Vice Principal) and Miss Quinn (Wellbeing Leader). As soon as Miss Prince saw me with the big A3 size portfolio folder, she knew straight away that there was going to be something exciting. As soon as they saw the Wau Bulan, they were very impressed! What surprised me the most was when Mr Shephard gave me something that I wouldn’t think that I would ever achieve. The Executive Principal’s Award!!!!! And the best part of all is that he said, “This is the first ever Executive Principal’s Award that I have given out!” I felt so honoured and gratified to be rewarded for my hard work. This has surely motivated me to work harder in the future because hard work does pay off!

To The Moon I Fly…

When I first thought of writing an article about Wau Bulan, I had no idea that it would take me this long to do the research. I have to admit, I am struggling to find resources for my article! It is a bit challenging than any other piece of writing that I’ve done before because I have to do a lot of research from scratch as I don’t know much about the topic. But, after all the hurdles, I managed to complete it in just one week. Even though it has taken a lot of my time and lots of sacrifices, I could proudly say that all the research and hard work which I did on Wau Bulan has made me learn a lot more about Malaysia’s heritage. It helps me to connect back to my beloved Kelantanese roots. I wish that this article will raise the awareness of how important it is to preserve our precious heritage! We should all be proud of our own culture and not be ashamed to speak our own language/dialect.

My mission is to inspire more people to explore their beautiful culture through my artwork while my vision is to produce more Wau Bulan artwork in the future so the world can witness the beauty of it! If I can manage to do all this, then together with the Wau Bulan, to the moon I fly…

Last but not least, enjoy a song written by me which is dedicated to my beloved Wau Bulan (special thanks to Mrs Mom for your assistance in helping me with all those difficult Kelate words and also act as my loyal translator)!

The “WOW” Wau (Original: Kelate Version)

I mari doh, I mari doh, Adik kakok sehak ke dok?

I ni budok baru belajar, Kalu saloh tulong ajar.

Duduk nulih dale selimut, Sejuk ketar palo lutut.

Hari hari makey ubi, Teringak sungguh beras wongi.

Tepak beranok hok I saye, Kapung asal koho saye.

Cair kecek ore putih, Bahaso Kelate tetap buleh.

Mari pakat denga belako, Mari lah pakat denga belako.

Jange lorak jange gaduh, Denga cerito jange ngeluh.

Cerito pasal nyo Wau Bule, Ribu tahun pun tok hiley.

Oh Wau Bule Oh Wau Bule, Oh Wau Bule teraju tigo.

Oh Wau Bule Oh Wau Bule, Saye sungguh nyo Wau Bule!

Beli budu atas pasar, Buat cicoh ikey tawar.

Ore Kelate comey lotey, Apo kurey nyo Wau Bule.

Besar sungguh nyo Wau Bule, Jadi maine anok jatey.

Timo kasih ko Tok kawe, Asal mari Kapung Mache.

Kilik naik kapal terbey, Buat hadioh cucu tersaye.

Ore England tok rajin tengok, Butir mato tubik belalok.

Oh Wau Bule Oh Wau Bule, Oh Wau Bule teraju tigo.

Oh Wau Bule Oh Wau Bule, Comey sungguh nyo Wau Bule!!

Anok capur gagoh berani, Patey undur lakoh kaki.

Ambo budok semiley tahun, Cito cito setinggi gunung.

Hajat nok buat nyo Wau Bule, Jadi soho serato ale.

Oh Wau Bule Oh Wau Bule, Oh Wau Bule teraju tigo.

Oh Wau Bule Oh Wau Bule, Hebat sungguh nyo Wau Bule!!!

Is barang baik, is barang baik, Is barang baik, gomo Kelate gomo!!!!

Is barang baik, is barang baik, Is barang baik, sep kito jange pecoh!!!!!

The “WOW” Wau (English Version)

Here I come, here I come, How are you my fellow chum?

I’m a newbie exploring new things, If I’m wrong then just say ding!

I’m all curled up in a blanket, Shivering cold sitting on my tuffet.

Potato chips, potato fries, How I miss the fragrant rice.

My place of birth has got the grooves, My heritage has got the moves.

The English language is very rich, But Kelate is forever cherished.

Come on come in, I’ll let you in.

No hustle no bustle, Listen to my story with no hassle.

A story about my Wau Bulan, That surely packed with lots of fun.

Oh Wau Bulan Oh Wau Bulan, Oh Wau Bulan with 3 strings.

Oh Wau Bulan Oh Wau Bulan, Oh my beloved Wau Bulan!

Buy some Budu, served in a dish, To eat with your tasty fish.

Kelantanese are fair and lovely, And so is my Wau Bulan dearie.

Big and small make some noise, It’s surely is a toy for boys.

Thank you grandpa from me in Brum, The town of Machang is where he’s from.

A special delivery by aeroplane, To surprise me, not David Blaine.

British people are all my clan, They all say WOW to Wau Bulan.

Oh Wau Bulan Oh Wau Bulan, Oh Wau Bulan with 3 strings.

Oh Wau Bulan Oh Wau Bulan, What a beauty oh my Wau Bulan!!

I’m a boy with unique background, Will never give up or easily drown.

I’m a boy with no mischief, With a big dream to achieve.

I wish to see my Wau Bulan, Become famous all over the land.

Oh Wau Bulan Oh Wau Bulan, Oh Wau Bulan with 3 strings.

Oh Wau Bulan Oh Wau Bulan, How great is my beloved Wau Bulan!!!

I feel good I feel good, I knew that I would, Go more Kelate go more!!!!

I feel good I feel good, I knew that I would, You’ll never walk alone!!!!!

Reference

  1. The Weeping Cradle: Kelantan’s Diminishing Arts by Ab Aziz Shuaib – UMK (Google Scholar)
  2. Lexical borrowing in Malaysian English: Influences of Malay – univ-lyon3.fr (Google Scholar)
  3. Thai Art by Yasaman Haghighat (http://www.sirinyas-thailand.de)
  4. Wau bulan – Wikipedia
  5. Talk: Wau bulan – Wikipedia
  6. Wau Bulan – The Moon Kite of Malaysia (www.my-best-kite.com)
  7. Wau Making, Kelantan – Youtube Kite of Malaysia (www.kiteman.co.uk)
  8. Traditional Games in Malaysia: Wau (http://traditionalgamescct.blogspot.co.uk)
  9. Malaysia Handicraft ~ Wau (http://go2travelmalaysia.com)
  10. Malaysian Traditional Games: WAU (http://malaysiangames.blogspot.co.uk)
  11. KOTA BHARU, KELANTAN SERIES: WAU BULAN, THE MOON KITES (http://docgelo.com)
  12. BE WOWED BY “WAU” (http://corporate.tourism.gov.my)
  13. Wau & Kites: Types of Wau: Wau Bulan (Moon Kite) (http://waukite.blogspot.co.uk)
  14. Wau: Jenis-Jenis Koleksi Wau (http://wautraditional.blogspot.co.uk)
  15. Malaysian Kites (http://www.bu6wawasan.com.my)
  16. Traditional Games in Malaysia: Types of Games (http://traditionalgamesinmalaysia.blogspot.co.uk)
  17. Facts And History Of Art Wau Bulan (http://the-art-of-wau-bulan.blogspot.co.uk)
  18. Background History of the ‘Wau Bulan’ Kite (https://jess93dotcom.wordpress.com)
  19. wau traditional games: “Wau” history (http://waugames.blogspot.co.uk)
  20. Why I Malaysia?: types of wau (http://farhannaismail.blogspot.co.uk)
  21. Coins Of Malaysia (http://www.123rf.com)
  22. Wau: Malaysian Traditional Kite (adanial74.blogspot.co.uk)
  23. Google Translate
  24. Documentary Video: Wau Maker by Udey Ismail (Vimeo)
  25. Music Video: Ewau Bule by Iwere Ft. Noraniza Idris (Youtube)
  26. Songs: Dikir Warriors (Youtube)
  27. Songs: Iseyfazlisham/Isey Salak Madu (Youtube)
  28. Songs: Sabri Yunus (Youtube)
  29. Songs: Karoot Komedia (Youtube)
  30. Songs: Tokseh Karpet (Youtube)
  31. Songs: Dikir Barat (Youtube)
  32. Media Source: Google Images & TPL

APPENDIX

Note: Thank you Mr. Udey Ismail for your permission to let me use this documentary video in my article/blog.

WORD COUNT: 3,677

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6 thoughts on “The “WOW” Wau!!!

  1. Hey TPL! First of all, I must confess how much I miss reading your blog! I’ve been craving for your writing for the past few days. I’m so delighted that you’re back…back with something exceptionally PAWSOME! When reading your articles (or any kind of writing), I tend to forget the fact that they were written by a nine-years old boy! Honestly, your natural and relaxed style of writing, is better than some of my undergraduate students. Of course there is always room for improvements, but as of now, at your age, you are doing an impeccable job. A round of applause for you TPL! 👏👏👏👏👏

    Okay, let’s talk about your Wau Bulan article. I can imagine all the hurdles you went through when researching the topic. Despite the extraordinary history of Wau Bulan, it’s a shame that we are lacking of sources for referencing purposes. When you first told me about your little project about Wau Bulan, I was like, how on earth you’re going to write it. The most I think you could write was perhaps just a couple of paragraph…or maybe three-four paragraphs max! But you proved me wrong. I really like the way you’ve made used of all the existing sources and elaborated them so beautifully. You’ve contributed to the body of knowledge for Wau Bulan. People could use your article as one of the referencing sources now. You’ve written it so naturally. Very well done! Four thumbs up (including the toes) for you young boy! 👍👍👍👍

    And not forgotten, your true forte….the song! When I first listened to the Kelantanese version, I was like WOW!! I couldn’t stop smiling from ear to ear. The Kelantenese blood in me is bubbling…haha! Then I read the English translation bit, I was like WOWWW! Each verse was translated beautifully. As you said, all the hard work has really paid off. What an excellent piece of work.

    HATS OFF TO YOU, the Pawsome Lion 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Impressive!

    I am Kelantanese Malaysian but I don’t know much about Wow Bulan. Just realise how ignorant am I *sigh*. Well, I used to play this thing when I was young but I really bad at it and it is not really my cup of tea *since boys are more interested in Wow Bulan compared to girls*. Haha. Thanks for your research though! Really good to know Wow Bulan has its own history and story.

    Really enjoy your writing. Very knowledgeable! Love it! 🙂

    Love from Poland,
    Maasi Ninie

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Masi Ninie! Glad to hear from you again. Hope you are well. It must be freezing in Poland now. If you need to defrost, come and visit us during the Christmas holiday. I’ll pop you in the oven for a minute to keep you warm! 😀

      Anyway, thank you for your continuous support. Words can’t express how grateful I am. I hope that the article has helped you to learn more about Wau Bulan. It’s so cool that you’ve actually flown a real Wau Bulan before! Hope you also like my Wau Bulan song. TTYL 😀

      Pawsome regards,
      TPL

      Like

      • OMG, I just realized I misspelled Wau as Wow. Haha.

        It is soo freezing cold now in Poland. InshaAllah I’ll visit you in Birmingham someday. I need to look at my schedule properly. 😉

        Of course I like you Wau Bulan song! I also like your creativity, collage of Wau Bulan using chocolate wrappers. *now I spelled it correctly* Haha.

        Keep it up young man! Always looking forward for your next stories.

        Liked by 1 person

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