Sunday, April 17, 2011

Langkawi, batik and bougainvillea

Postcard sent from Butterworth, Malaysia. 4th of 4 that I received in one day this week.
Thanks, Intan Alee

postcard of Langkawi Pantai Cenang beach, Postcrossing MY-58859
I've been to Langkawi a couple times. The island in northwest Malaysia, just off the coast near the border with Thailand,  is a lovely getaway. Actually I should say I've been to the main island because Langkawi is really an archipelago of about 100 islands in the Andaman Sea. The main island has nice beaches and holiday resorts, the interior is relatively undeveloped and many parts remain a tropical jungle. The postcard shows Pantai Cenang beach along the main beach strip on the island's west coast.

Langkawi and other coastal areas in the Andaman Sea were among the places affected by the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004 which killed 230,000 people. Langkawi was was not as devastated as other places, thanks to its mangroves. Unfortunately, tourism and certain agricultural industries (shrimp-farming or instance) has harmed and destroyed many of the coral reefs and mangrove forests of South-east Asia, which used to be a natural defence against tsunamis. There is a link to an interesting article: Mangroves Stop Tsunami (Langkawi Magazine).

Malaysian stamps: bougainvillea and batik, Postcrossing MY-58859

Nice stamps depicting some South-east Asian staples: bougainvillea (bunga kertas in Malay, the national language of Malaysia) and batik. The bougainvillea plant is native to South America but it is now very common in South-east Asia.

Batik, cloth decorated in a specifc way wth wax and dye, is not just a traditional fabric in many countries in South-east Asia, it is also a common craft and an art form. An explanation of how batik is made from The Batik Guild (UK):
To make a batik, selected areas of the cloth are blocked out by brushing or drawing hot wax over them, and the cloth is then dyed. The parts covered in wax resist the dye and remain the original colour. This process of waxing and dyeing can be repeated to create more elaborate and colourful designs. After the final dyeing the wax is removed and the cloth is ready for wearing or showing.
To make modern batik, the artist might use different techniques (etching, discharge dyeing, stencils), tools and  wax recipes, as well as work with other fabrics (silk, cotton, wool) and materials (leather, paper, wood and ceramics).

The Indonesian batik was put on the Unesco Intangible Cultural Heritage list in 2009.

You can see some batik photos from Google images here, they are in the traditional style which is not my favorite. I've seen some gorgeous modern designs that are really beautiful. The aim of the Unesco list is to encourage local communities to protect their intangible cultural heritage and arts.

Related links
Mangrove forests protected areas from 2004 tsunami (
Facts about tsunamis (liberal sprinkles)
Bougainvillea Care (Plant-Care)
Tips on how to grow bougainvillea (
Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity (Wikipedia)

by liberal sprinkles

1 comment:

Lynn said...

Looks like a nice place to vacation. Love the stamps too! At some point, I plan to link to all your info... ah, never enough time in the day!