Sparking team creativity with the wau master of Kelantan

When the wau master from LokaLocal came all the way from Kelantan to share his knowledge with a corporate client.

Lesson in Tradition: the Wau Master of Kelantan

When one mentions kite-flying, often our minds race to fond memories from the carefree days of childhood. But what do we think of when the word ‘Wau Bulan’ comes to mind?

While the thought of Wau Bulan, otherwise known as Moon Kites, may not typically conjure images of frolicking in a grassy field with a loved one, this iconic traditional kite can involve fun and play, simultaneously culminating with a level of cultural significance.

Moon Kites are said to represent the rising crescent moon when flown, an activity indulged in by communities across the eastern states of Peninsular Malaysia. In days of old, waus were used by farmers to stave off birds from their paddy fields. They are a symbol of history and tradition, typically sized at 3.5 meters in length and 2.5 meters in width (bigger than any other Malaysian kite).

Earlier this week, I had the privilege of witnessing the magic of Wau Bulan first hand. Wan Anuar came down to Selangor all the way from Kelantan to share with a corporate client with a simplistic gist of his knowledge regarding the intricacies and joy of moon-kite making.

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Participation through passion

Wan Anuar, a wau master, is son to the late Pak Shafie, who himself was a legendary kite maker. It would seem that over a span of 20 years, Wan Anuar effectively inherited the trade of kite-making from his father, denoting high levels of elegance and precision in his trade.

During his workshop, Wan Anuar was able to push the creative boundaries of grown men and women, and bring out their inner child. As I observed from the sidelines, I got a vivid sense of how Wan Anuar, after only a few minutes, lightened the serious business atmosphere of a hotel-held conference, and transformed it into that of an art class.

Obviously the participants of the workshop were not expected to design a wau nor use the methodology required to form its bamboo frame. Nonetheless the effort put into making it was still considerably high, and to some perhaps even tedious.

The selective process of making a wau involved carefully cutting rice paper and pasting it one piece at a time onto a bamboo frame to form intricate motifs. Completing each process seemed to give the participants a sense of accomplishment, thus making each task worth the effort.

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Lesson in tradition

Smiles spread throughout the room like an infectious disease as the employees, dressed from head to toe in work attire, raced against one another in one of the most competitive manners I’ve ever seen…and this is just to craft kites. One by one they sporadically took turns to stroll from their allocated group tables to the front of the hall to analyse and admire the pre-made wau by Wan Anuar, in an attempt to replicate it to perfection.

I will never forget the degree of excellence in which one group was able to do so. With the guidance of Wan Anuar, and motivation from a pinch of his one-of-a kind sense of humor, they were able to utilize the provided materials and the elements of their own inventiveness, to create a beautifully aesthetic multi-colored Wau Bulan, a kite that in its own way has an unparalleled grace to it. The paper that made the majority of its surface area wrapped snugly onto the kite’s thin wooden frame.

One thing was absolutely clear to me. Even though Wan Anuar has guided visitors through a gallery of forgotten traditions for just over a year, he is not just a master of making the most impressive works of art. He is able to share his knowledge with others, making his passion one that has the potential to live on throughout the ages.

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