Malay Arts and Crafts

Reprint 30
Malay Arts and Crafts
Tan Sri Dato' Mubin Sheppard
264pp 180x254mm Softcover

This volume had been originally published by the Oxford University Press in 1972 under the title "Taman Indera: Malay Decorative Arts and Pastimes" and such was its popularity that it was reprinted in 1986. Since its first publication, it had quickly established itself a classic work on Malay traditional crafts and art forms, remarkable for its extraordinary breadth and familiarity with the subject matter that could have come only from a dedicated observer of Malay leisure and pastime as the author was. It would be no exaggeration to advance the claim that the work was a pioneering one in its field, and rendered all the more valuable by the author's sustained interaction with surviving practitioners of these art forms, many of whom had already expired or retired from the field by the time the book first came out.

'After a historical introduction, the author presents his material in fifteen chapters, each devoted to one aspect of Malay decorative arts and pastimes. The author thus succeeds in dealing with various genres of performing arts, wood and metal work, ceremonies, costume, architecture, musical instruments, self-defence, weaponry and various pastimes such as top-spinning and kite-flying. The text is eminently readable and is enhanced by more than 180 excellent illustrations of which 83 are in colour.

The author is not writing as a scientist but rather as a connoisseur, seeking to share with as wide an audience as possible, the wealth of experience and knowledge he has acquired over several decades, and an excess of scholarly apparatus would defeat this purpose. It is to the author's credit that the bulk of information was gathered first-hand and there is much in this work that is seeing print for the first time.

' is greatly to his credit that he has focussed attention upon the culture of Patani. This area has been sadly neglected by most studies of Malay culture, and all too often the arts and crafts of the area are dismissed as being mere borrowings from the Thais. It is often forgotten that the political frontiers are no indication of the cultural boundaries between Malay and Thai and that Patani was, in the past, and to some extent still is, an important centre of Malay culture, possessing many distinctive features of its own and exerting no small influence upon the adjacent territories, not only to the south.'

Professor Amin Sweeney

About the Author:

Tan Sri Datuk Haji Abdul Mubin Sheppard (1905-1994) was one those rara aves in the long and brilliant-hued history of the MBRAS, a senior colonial official in the Malayan Civil Service who, in the course of his assignment in pre-independence Malaya, fell in love with the country and its people, and became a lifelong devotee to the study of Malay culture and history. The author was also the driving force behind the MBRAS, serving it with indefatigable zeal by becoming its Secretary for many years and a prolific contributor to its journal and elsewhere.

Foreword to First Edition by TUN ABDUL RAZAK
Preface to First Edition
A Note on the Author
List of Illustrations


  1. Regalia
  2. Palaces and Wood Carving
  3. Musical Instruments
  4. Ma'yong — the Malay Dance Drama
  5. The Malay Shadow Play
  6. Dancing
  7. Weddings
  8. Dress
  9. Weapons
  10. Silat — the Malay Art of Self-Defence
  11. Metal Work, Pane/an Weaving and Pottery
  12. Sireh — the Ceremonial Leaf
  13. Kites and Kite Flying
  14. Spinning Tops and Top Spinning
  15. Decorative Art and the Spirit World


COPYRIGHT © 2010 Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society