Malaysia - Songket

"Songket is a traditional Malaysian handwoven fabric created by women in the Malay Peninsula and Sarawak. The term songket refers to the decorative weaving technique used to make the fabric, which entails inserting gold or silver thread in between the base threads. As a result, the extra threads seem to float over a colourful woven background to create an ornamental effect. Songket is woven using a kek, a traditional, two-pedal floor loom. The final product is a delicate fabric resulting from months of skilled handloom weaving by expert artisans. The weaving technique, which dates back to the sixteenth century, is passed on from generation to generation, and the songket style can be identified by the design patterns that use geometric shapes and organic elements, such as flowers, birds and insects. The songket material was traditionally worn only by royalty and their families. However, today it is used by Malay people all over the country in traditional ceremonial clothing, for royal installations, weddings, births, festive occasions and formal state functions. Although the weaving of songket has always been firmly in the hands of women, men also partake i wearing a royal headgear made of songket.

Source: UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage

Postcard 1
Making of songket using traditional handloom. I bought this older postcard in Malaysia.

Postcard 2
Maxicard of the King of Malaysia wearing a royal headgear made of songket material.

Postcard 3
Sultan of Kedah wearing a royal headgear made of songket material.

Thailand - Nora - dance drama in southern Thailand

"Nora is a lively and acrobatic form of dance theatre and improvisational singing from southern Thailand. Performances normally include a long oral invocation, followed by a presentation by a lead character who dances with vigorous and elaborate movements of the legs, arms and fingers. The performances are usually based on stories about the former lives of Buddha or about legendary heroes. An ensemble plays highly rhythmic and fast-paced music, with a traditional southern oboe providing the melody and strong rhythms produced by drums, gongs, cymbals and wooden clappers. The main Nora performers – whether male or female – wear colourful costumes with crowns or headdresses, beads, bird-like wings tied around the waist, ornate scarves, and swan tails that give them a bird-like appearance. Performers also wear long, metallic fingernails that curl out from the fingertips. Nora is a community-based practice with deep cultural and social significance for the people of southern Thailand. Performances use regional dialects, music and literature to reinforce cultural life and social bonds among local people. Over five hundred years old, Nora is performed in local community centres and at temple fairs and cultural events, and is passed on through training by masters in homes, community organizations and educational institutions."

Source: UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage

Two Menorah (Nora) dancers in Nakhon Si Thammarat, southern Thailand. I bought this postcard during my first visit to Nakhon Si Thammrarat to buy postcards of its famouse Buddhist temple - not knowing that it will be a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage one day. I cancelled the Thai Asean cultural stamps at Sam Senai Philatelic Museum and Bangkok.

Spain - Valencia Fallas festivity

"The main feature of the Fallas Festivity, a tradition of communities in Valencia and its diaspora celebrating the coming of spring, is the giant falla. The falla is a monument made up of ninots (caricature pieces) created by local artists and craftspeople that provides a commentary on current social issues. Erected in the town square, the falla is set alight at the end of the festivity, which runs from March 14 to 19, to symbolize the coming of spring, purification and a rejuvenation of community social activity. In the meantime, marching bands parade the streets, outdoor meals are held and fireworks staged. Each year, a Fallas Queen is elected to promote the festivity throughout the year encouraging locals and visitors to take part. Know-how associated with the practice is transmitted within families, particularly those involved in the construction of the ninots who belong to different guilds among participating communities. The Fallas Festivity provides an opportunity for collective creativity and the safeguarding of traditional arts and crafts. It is also a source of community pride, contributor to cultural identity and enhances social cohesion. In the past, the festivity was also a way of preserving the Valencian language when it was prohibited."

Source: UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Fallas Festival in Valencia, Spain is a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage. Thanks to Rosalia of Sevilla, Spain. Postmarked September 13, 2021 and arrived in Penang island on October 6, 2021.

Singapore - Hawker culture in Singapore, community dining and culinary practices in a multicultural urban context

"Hawker culture in Singapore: community dining and culinary practices in a multicultural urban context is present throughout Singapore. Hawkers prepare a variety of food (‘hawker food’) for people who dine and mingle at hawker centres. These centres serve as ‘community dining rooms’ where people from diverse backgrounds gather and share the experience of dining over breakfast, lunch and dinner. Activities such as chess-playing, busking and art-jamming also take place. Evolved from street food culture, hawker centres have become markers of Singapore as a multicultural city-state, comprising Chinese, Malay, Indian and other cultures. Hawkers take inspiration from the confluence of these cultures, adapting dishes to local tastes and contexts. Today, hawker centres across Singapore continue serving the needs of diverse communities in residential, recreational and work districts. Some of the oldest hawkers started their practice in the 1960s. Many specialize in a particular dish, refined over many years, and transmit their recipes, knowledge and skills to younger family members or apprentices. Community organizations, non-governmental organizations and educational institutions play a significant role in promoting and sustaining hawker culture through training programmes, events and documentation projects. As a social space that embraces people from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds, hawker centres play a crucial role in enhancing community interactions and strengthening the social fabric."

Source: UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage

Singapore Hainanese Steam Chicken Rice. One of my favorite dish that I like whenever I visit Singapore. It is one of the regular food sold at Singapore Hawker Centres. I bought these this extra long postcard in Singapore in August 2012.

China - Malaysia: Ong Chun/Wangchuan/Wangkang

"Ong Chun/Wangchuan/Wangkang ceremony, rituals and related practices for maintaining the sustainable connection between man and the ocean.

The Ong Chun ceremony and related practices are rooted in folk customs of worshipping Ong Yah, a deity believed to protect people and their lands from disasters. Developed in China’s Minnan region between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries, the element is now centered in the coastal areas of Xiamen Bay and Quanzhou Bay, as well as in the Chinese communities in Melaka, Malaysia. Those who died at sea are considered as ‘good brothers’ who become lonely, wandering souls. The ceremony begins by people gathering at the seaside to welcome Ong Yah to temples or clan halls, while lamp poles are erected to summon ‘good brothers’ and deliver them from torment. In this way, the element has been celebrated as ‘doing good deeds’. Performances head the procession and clear a path for Ong Yah’s barge (wooden or paper-made models). These performances include gaojia and gezai opera, different dances, comprising dragon and lion dances, and puppet shows, among many others. The element evokes the historical memory of ancestors’ ocean-going, reshapes social connections when confronted with emergencies such as shipwrecks, and honours the harmony between man and the ocean. It also bears witness to the intercultural dialogue among communities.

Source: UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage"

Yong Chuan Tian 勇全殿 Tee Ong Yah Temple is located at Bandar Hilir, Melaka, Malaysia. The temple houses the Tee Ong Yah and from where the barge of Wangkang festival begins the procession.

Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen -Date palm, knowledge, skills, traditions and practices

"The date palm has been connected to the regional population of the submitting States for centuries, serving both as the source of numerous associated crafts, professions and social and cultural traditions, customs and practices, and as a key form of nutrition. The date palm is an evergreen plant typically associated with dry climates, where the roots of the plant penetrate deeply into the earth in search of humidity. Bearers and practitioners include date palm farm owners, farmers who plant, nurture and irrigate the date palm offshoots, craftspeople who produce traditional products using various parts of the palm tree, date traders, creative individuals and performers of associated folkloric tales and poems. The Date palm, knowledge, skills, traditions and practices have played a pivotal role in strengthening the connection between people and the land in the Arab region, helping them face the challenges of the harsh desert environment. This historic relationship in the region and the element has produced a rich cultural heritage of related practices between people in the region, knowledge and skills maintained to this day. The cultural relevance and proliferation of the element over the centuries prove how committed the local communities are to sustaining it; this is achieved through collective participation in multiple date-palm related activities and numerous festive rituals, traditions and customs."

Source: UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage

Postcard 1
Date palms in Al Ain Oasis, Abu Dhabi. Thanks to Heidi for mailing from UAE.

Postcard 2
Date palms in Fajal Daris of Oman. Thanks to Jean-Pierre of France.

Indonesia - Noken multifunctional knotted or woven bag, handcraft of the people of Papua

"Noken is a knotted net or woven bag handmade from wood fibre or leaves by communities in Papua and West Papua Provinces of Indonesia. Men and women use it for carrying plantation produce, catch from the sea or lake, firewood, babies or small animals as well as for shopping and for storing things in the home. Noken may also be worn, often for traditional festivities, or given as peace offerings. The method of making Noken varies between communities, but in general, branches, stems or bark of certain small trees or shrubs are cut, heated over a fire and soaked in water. The remaining wood fibre is dried then spun to make a strong thread or string, which is sometimes coloured using natural dyes. This string is knotted by hand to make net bags of various patterns and sizes. The process requires great manual skill, care and artistic sense, and takes several months to master. The number of people making and using Noken is diminishing, however. Factors threatening its survival include lack of awareness, weakening of traditional transmission, decreasing numbers of craftspeople, competition from factory-made bags, problems in easily and quickly obtaining traditional raw materials, and shifts in the cultural values of Noken."

Source: UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage

Noken is a Papuan traditional bag is carried by the head. It is a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage. Thanks to Shinta of Indonesia. Five beautiful stamps used. Received in Penang island on October 9, 2020.

Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania - The Baltic Song and Dance

"Both a repository and a showcase for the region’s tradition of performing folk art, this cultural expression culminates in large-scale festivals every fifth year in Estonia and Latvia and every fourth year in Lithuania.These grand events, held over several days, assemble as many as 40,000 singers and dancers. For the most part, the participants belong to amateur choirs and dance groups.Their repertories reflect the wide range of musical traditions in the Baltic States, from the most ancient folk songs to contemporary compositions. Directed by professional choir conductors, bandleaders and dance instructors, many singers and dancers practise throughout the year in community centres and local cultural institutions..." 

Source: UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage

Postcard 1 - Lithuania
Lithuanian National Song and Dance Festival. Thanks to Lina of Lithuania.

Postcard 2A - Estonia
Song Festival Grounds at Tallinn, Estonia. Nice Year of Rabbit stamp used. Thanks to Heidi of Estonia.

Postcard 2B - Estonia
Lauluvatjak - National Song Festival Grounds. Thanks to Marco of Austria for mailing from Tallin, Estonia.

Postcard 3A - Latvia
Latvian National Song and Dance Festival. It is a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage. Thanks to Marco of Austria for mailing from Riga, Latvia.

Postcard 3B - Latvia
Latvian Dance and Song Festival is held every 5 years in Riga. It is a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage amongst the Baltic countries. Thanks to Jean-Pierre of France. Postmarked July 31, 2020 and arrived in Penang island on August 25, 2020.

Germany - Idea and practice of organizing shared interests in cooperatives

A cooperative is an association of volunteers that provides services of a social, cultural or economic nature to members of the community to help improve living standards, overcome shared challenges and promote positive change. Based on the subsidiarity principle that puts personal responsibility above state action, cooperatives allow for community building through shared interests and values creating innovative solutions to societal problems, from generating employment and assisting seniors to urban revitalization and renewable energy projects. Anyone can participate, with members also able to acquire shares in the association and have a say in its future direction. The system makes available low-interest loans to farmers, craftspeople and entrepreneurs. Today, about a quarter of Germany’s population are members of a cooperative, which besides farmers and craftspeople, includes 90 per cent of its bakers and butchers and 75 per cent of its retailers. Some cooperatives have also been set up specifically for students to gain experience. Associated knowledge and skills are transmitted by cooperatives, universities, the German Cooperative and Raiffeisen Confederation, The Akademie Deutscher Genossenschaften, the German Hermann-Schulze-Delitzsch Society and the German Friedrich-Wilhelm-Raiffeisen Society.

Source: UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage

Deustsches Gennossenschaftsmuseum Delitzch - a dedicated museum in Delitzch near Liepzig, German that showcase the pioneer cooperative societies in Germany. It is a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage. Thanks to Marcel of Germany. Postmarked July 13, 2020 with special Covid-19 cancellation "GEMEINSAM GEGEN CORONA" (Together Against Corona) and received in Penang island on July 28, 2020.

China - The Twenty-Four Solar Terms

The Twenty-Four Solar Terms, knowledge in China of time and practices developed through observation of the sun’s annual motion:

"The ancient Chinese divided the sun’s annual circular motion into 24 segments. Each segment was called a specific ‘Solar Term’. The element of Twenty-Four Solar Terms originated in the Yellow River reaches of China. The criteria for its formulation were developed through the observation of changes of seasons, astronomy and other natural phenomena in this region and has been progressively applied nationwide. It starts from the Beginning of Spring and ends with the Greater Cold, moving in cycles. The element has been transmitted from generation to generation and used traditionally as a timeframe to direct production and daily routines. It remains of particular importance to farmers for guiding their practices. Having been integrated into the Gregorian calendar, it is used widely by communities and shared by many ethnic groups in China. Some rituals and festivities in China are closely associated with the Solar Terms for example, the First Frost Festival of the Zhuang People and the Ritual for the Beginning of Spring in Jiuhua. The terms may also be referenced in nursery rhymes, ballads and proverbs. These various functions of the element have enhanced its viability as a form of intangible cultural heritage and sustain its contribution to the community’s cultural identity. Knowledge of the element is transmitted through formal and informal means of education."

Source: UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Postcard 1
Nice postcard of 小雪 Little Snow one of the 24 solar terms.  Thanks to Wulifei of China.

Postcard 2
Autumn center (Equinox) 秋分 is one of the 24 solar terms is mailed from Taiwan. Thanks to Maicy of Taiwan.

Postcard 3
Summer Solstice 夏至"Xia Zhi" is the tenth of the 24 lunar terms in China and part of UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage. It marks the longest day and shortest night of the year - lotus bloom in Forbidden City, Beijing. Thanks to Edwin of China. Mailed on April 10, 2020 and arrived in Penang on June 10, 2020.

Postcard 4 - Dong Zhi
Dong Zhi 冬至 Winter poem postcard. Thanks to Yumi of Guangzhou, China.

Germany - Organ craftsmanship and music

"Organ craftsmanship and music has shaped Germany’s musical landscape and instrument-making for centuries, and there are a diverse number of related traditions in the country. Organ craftsmanship and music are closely related since each instrument is created specifically for the architectural space in which it will be played. The highly specialized knowledge and skills related to the practice have been developed by craftspeople, composers and musicians working together throughout history, and the specialized and mostly informally-transmitted knowledge and skills are significant markers of group identity. Transcultural by its very nature, organ music is a universal language that fosters interreligious understanding. Though mostly associated with church services, concerts and modern cultural events, it is also played during important community-building festivities. There are 400 medium-sized craftspeople’s establishments in Germany, which guarantee its viability and transmission, as well as some larger family-owned workshops. Knowledge and skills related to the element are transmitted through a direct teacher-pupil experience, which is complemented by training in vocational schools and universities. Apprentices gain practical experience in organ construction workshops as well as theoretical knowledge in vocational schools, and efforts to safeguard the element also include teaching in universities and music academies, conferences, and presentations via the media." Source: UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage

A postcard of the organ of St. Gangolf Church, Heinsberg, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. Thanks to Marcel of Germany. Mailed on May 7, 2020 and arrived in Penang island on June 1, 2020 during this Covid-19 pandemic.

Austria - Czechia - Germany - Hungary - Slovakia - Blaudruck/Modrotisk/Kékfestés/Modrotlač, resist block printing and indigo dyeing in Europe

"Blaudruck/Modrotisk/Kékfestés/Modrotlač, which translates directly as blueprint or blue-dyeing, refers to the practice of printing a dye-resistant paste onto a cloth before dyeing over it with indigo dye. The resistant paste prevents the dye from penetrating the design, thereby ensuring the applied design remains white or undyed after the dyeing process. To apply the designs onto the cloth, practitioners use hand-crafted blocks that are up to 300 years old, featuring regionally-inspired patterns as well as generic designs or Christian motifs. The representation of local flora and fauna is interrelated with the local culture of the regions. Traditional indigo blue-dyeing does not end with printing, however: the textile chain involves preparing the raw materials and spinning, weaving, finishing, printing and dyeing them. Nowadays, businesses engaged in the practice mainly comprise small, family-owned workshops, run by the second to seventh generation of printers. Each family workshop involves the cooperation of the various family members, who each participate in every step of the production regardless of their gender. Traditional knowledge is still based on (mainly family-owned) journals dating back to the nineteenth century and passed on through observation and hands-on practice. Stakeholders feel a strong emotional bond with their products, and the element encapsulates a sense of pride in long-lasting family traditions."

Source: UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage

Traditional Lusatia blue print. Thanks to Zlwe of Dresden, Germany. Sent from Dresden on Jan 10, 2020.