Monday, May 29, 2017

Kaamatan boosts demand for traditional costumes


KENINGAU: At this time of the year, Mohd Azrul Fildza Abdullah’s boutique, here is a hive of activity as he and his wife race against time to meet the numerous orders for hand-stitched ethnic costumes.

It is now Kaamatan time in the Land Below the Wind and this is when the locals don their traditional garments to participate in the various events that are usually held in conjunction with the festival‘s month-long celebrations.

“This is a busy time for me as I‘ve to complete all the orders I‘ve received for Kaamatan,” Mohd Azrul Fildza, 41, told Bernama recently when met at his small boutique, Azma Trading, which he runs with his 36-year-old wife Fatma Zainal.

Mohd Azrul, a Kadazan, has been receiving orders for the traditional garments since April.

“I‘ve stopped taking new orders because these clothes have to be sewn with great precision. Some ethnic groups” traditional clothes are quite tedious to sew. In fact, it may take me two or three months to complete one set,” he said.

The traditional outfit worn by the Kadazans in Penampang, also known as the sinombiaka, was easier to sew, he said, adding that he and his wife could complete three to five sets of these garments a day.

“For the sinombiaka, we just have to add gold-coloured and red lace trimmings to the clothes. In contrast, the Tindal (a Dusun sub-ethnic group) people who hail from Kota Belud have such intricate costumes which can take us two to three months to complete as they require embroidered motifs,” explained Mohd Azrul.

The Tindal sub-ethnic group“s traditional costumes, he added, were more vibrant to look at as they were adorned with red and yellow sequins and gold-coloured buttons.

Mohd Azrul“s boutique has earned a reputation as one of the best shops in the state to secure ethnic garments for Kaamatan.

He also receives orders for traditional garments from Sabahans residing in Peninsular Malaysia and even overseas.

“Several customers of ours working in countries like Japan and Australia have ordered clothes from us through our Facebook and Instagram (azmatrading) pages,” he said.

Kaamatan, an annual rice harvest festival, is among the major cultural festivals observed by the Kadazandusun - the largest indigenous group in Sabah - Murut and Rungus ethnic groups in Sabah.

The festivities, which usually kick off in the beginning of May and include carnivals and traditional performances, peak on May 30 and 31 which are public holidays in the state.

The climax of the celebrations will take place at the Kadazandusun Cultural Association‘s Hongkod Koisaan hall in Penampang, located on the outskirts of Kota Kinabalu.

The people themselves will be the highlight at the closing events as they will all be resplendently decked out in their respective ethnic wear.

Interestingly, Sabah‘s traditional costumes come mainly in hues of black as it is believed that the colour symbolised power that is capable of protecting the wearer against evil spirits.

Some quarters also believed that the colour suited the lifestyle of the ethnic people whose forefathers had lived in a state of nature.

Sabah has over 30 ethnic groups, each with its own rich heritage of traditional costumes and cultural practices that reflect their unique identity.

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