Tuesday, May 26, 2009

An Old Lady in “Smuta”

An Old Lady in “Smuta”

“Mok Cik, ambo puko gamba sbutir deh?” (Ma’am, do you mind me taking a picture?)
“Hok aloh…. puko wat ggapo nyo?!!” (Goodness…. what’s this for?!!)

That’s the exchange of words between me and this old lady. Despite of her reply sounds like a hint of protest; she paused and looked into my lens and I took it as consent. Before she had time to think on what’s next to say, I already had done capturing her. I gave her silly grin in return and walked past her with slight bow without thanking her. Least spoken about the verity of the local culture, particularly in this state – in certain conditions, the word “thank you” is not necessarily uttered out when the gesture is more than sufficient displaying the gratitude and appreciation. And the other party would understandably take it as thanks.

This is happened in Kota Bharu, Kelantan. Kota Bharu is the capital town for the state of Kelantan, located some 450 km away to the northeast of Kuala Lumpur, not far from Thailand border.

Make no mistake; if next time you see old woman with pastel-colored headgear made out of a sheet of speckled floral-motif fabric like the woman in the picture is wearing, she must be from this place. Locally, the traditional headgear she is wearing is known as “smuta” and the said thin floral-motif fabric used is called “kain lepas”.

There are no specific rules on how to wear it but the motive is to have the whole length of the 2-foot x 5-foot “kain lepas” to be wrapped around the head to form as “hat”. The headgear of “smuta” is actually prevalent to be worn by men but the women of old would do such as well. More often than not, those days, women would use this as a buffer to cushion up loads carried on top of their heads while men would rather wear it as part of fashion and also as a practical mean just like bandana is worn in the west.

Such a pity, we even hardly found men walk around in “smuta” in Kota Bharu these days. And it never happened in Kuala Lumpur. I am sure it’ll be a head turner with a barrage of wolf-whistles to be accrued if one is wearing it here in Kuala Lumpur.

1 comment:

Pak Zawi said...

High time I make a post on this least understood piece of cloth we call 'kain batik lepas' which is often used as a 'semuta'. Gave a piece to Awang Goneng when I met him in London hoping to see him use his literary skill to explain about the kain batik lepas but he passed the buck back to me. You post on this 'semuta' has rekindled my desire to make a post. I will do it soon.


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