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Kelantan In Heritage

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Tarian Asyik (The Dance of Lover)

Sunday, July 22, 2007
Tarian Asyik, which means "the dance of a lover," is a classical Malay court dance that was popular in Kelantan (a state on the east coast of West Malaysia) and Patani (a state south of Thailand that was part of the Patani Malay Sultanate in the fifteenth century). Hikayat Patani (The Story of Patani, 1730) mentions that during the reign of Raja Kuning (a queen who ruled Patani in 1644), there were twelve asyik dancers at her court who gave performances during official ceremonies as well as at festivals and court marriages. The dancers were maids of the palace.

The dance was created on the instructions of a king who mourned for his favorite pet, a beautiful bird that had escaped its cage. The king went on a long search to find the bird, but he came back empty-handed. Brokenhearted, he asked that a dance be created that imitated the movements of the lost bird. Initially ten dancers enter the stage and sit gracefully. Then Puteri Asyik (Princess of Love) enters and the dance begins. The gracious and delicate movements of the dancers create a romantic atmosphere. The dancers wear long dresses made of silk and display jewelry on their bodies and waistbands. The musical instruments that accompany the dance include eleven types of gedombak asyik (a small drum), gambang (a xylophone-like instrument, usually made of slabs of wood or bronze), and rebab (a bowed lute). Dancers wear local flowers in their hair. Today, the dance would be performed by young girls, and it has become a dance for the common people and is usually performed at festival and cultural shows, obviously no longer a court entity.