Gasing Lagenda out to preserve traditional Malay game

A competitor balacing his spinning tops (Gasing) during the Tops competiton at 'Gelanggang Gasing Satenaga' Kg Selayun Sengkurong last year. Picture: BT/Saifulizam

Thursday, June 17, 2010

SPINNING 'gasing' or tops is a Malay game that has existed for ages but unfortunately is gradually losing its lustre among the younger generation now.

Ask some of the younger generation if they know what is a 'gasing' or what is top spinning and there is a chance that several may give the shrugs accompanied by the 'don't know' or 'not sure' reply.

Actually spinning the top is a traditional game that existed right from the era of the Melaka Malay Sultanate.

Realising this, Remy Azizi Abdul Karim and his father Abdul Karim Talib, 60, established Gasing Lagenda Enterprise in 2007 in the efforts to conserve this traditional game from getting extinct.

The company has a top production workshop in Bukit Rambai here.

According to the 30-year-old Remy Azizi, GLE with the assistance of the Malaysian Handicraft Development Corporation (Kraftangan Malaysia), the company produces various versions of tops including that for the 'gasing pangkah' (top against top) game and also in the form of gifts and souvenirs.

'Gasing pangkah' is a highly skilled game where a long length of string is wound around a large wooden top and then flung onto a rubber mat, spinning the 'gasing'. The opponent then flings his top at the spinning one, with the aim of blasting the first top off the playing surface.

The game involves two teams of four players each and played on a round-shaped playing surface known as 'bong' which is 14 metres in diameter.

The game begins when four tops from a group are spun on the playing surface and the other team members would try to strike each of these spinning tops with their own 'gasing'.

The team that has the most number of spinning tops on the 'bong' would be declared the winner but if the equal number from each team is still spinning, then the longest spinning gasing would be named the winner.

The types of tops played in the game differs in each state and in Melaka the popular tops used in this game are the 'berembang' and 'tunjang' type. But the 'gasing jantung', believed to have originated during the reign of the Melaka Sultanate, is now almost extinct after it was banned from the game in the 1970's due to its ability to 'easily destroy' other tops during the game.

Remy Azizi, who inherited the top-making skills from of his father, has been making tops since the age of 17. Since then he has produced quality tops even though making one would take a long time.

The time taken to make a top depends on the type of top to be made, Remy Azizi told Bernama at his workshop.

In order to make a top for a competition, he said the wood to be used should be of high quality. The wood would have to be stored or 'incubated' for some four years before being turned into a sports top. The final stage of the top-making process usually takes two hours.

For souvenir or decorative tops, the wood would have to be incubated and the time taken to make a top of this variety is only about one hour.

The wood used for each top variety also differs. Remy Aziz usually uses the keranji, tualang, cengal and leban kuning for the tops that he produced. "To make high quality tops, I use a mangrove trunk that has been submerged in mud due to its durability," he said.

The wood would be cut into cubes of 15cm x 15cm x 15cm, known as the 'tuai' and stored in a closed compartment for four years.Bernama


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