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Jikey, musical theatre returns to captivate fans in Langkawi

Last Update: 25/08/2019

LANGKAWI, Aug 25 -- The 'Jikey', a traditional Malay dance form, still receives encouraging response from its loyal fans who waited patiently around the stage in Kampung Ewa.

Leading a group of musicians, the 78-year-old Bibun Arshad begins the performance with a song in Siamese language (Thailand) as the opening to the event, accompanied by beats of one big drum, followed by two small drums, gong, and other musical instruments.

The show continued with sketch acting, interlaced with singing and dancing by Tok Penghulu ‘Awang’, ‘Nana’, Ah Seng and ‘Minachi - the compulsory characters in the heritage cultural show since 100 years ago.

Speaking to Bernama recently, Bibun said jikey is a must-have musical theatre-genre event at every wedding in the island once upon a time.

“The jikey performance came from south Thailand which was presented with singing elements in Siam and Malay language, dance and sketch acting especially folk tales that varied accordingly,” he added.

“For each performance, every member of the group will be involved in either singing, playing musical instruments and acting with their own costumes. Hundred years ago, characters like Tok Penghulu (Headman), Nana (Indian male trader), Awang (Tok Penghulu’s employee), Ah Seng (Chinese who owns a business), and Minachi (an Indian woman) would entertain people on the island during a wedding ceremony.

However, Bibun, in a sad voice tone, said although he has performance and charmed the heart of Langkawi residents, the heritage culture has been forgotten. He has not been active since 20 years ago in the Jikey.

“Previously, everyone waits for the highly anticipated jikey performances during wedding ceremonies. My team will fulfil all the invitations received from every village on the island. When I was active, there were three main groups namely in Kampung Ewa, Kampung Nyior Cabang and Kampung Mawat.

“But as time goes by, every team member became inactive including me,” he said, adding he decided to revive the unique tradition among the younger generation with his brother Saidin Arshad and a relative Jusoh Chin.

Last year, Bibun said they decided to be active again by re-forming the Kampung Ewa Jikey Group, which consists of 12 members who involved family members such as children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

“The team were taught how to hit a drum, gong, sing, dance and act through training each night except on Thursdays, from 9pm to 11pm,” he said, adding he inherited the skills from his late father at the age of 12 years.

Since becoming active for over a year ago, the Kampung Ewa Jikey Group received an overwhelming response from Langkawi residents, and as a result, they are invited to perform on a regular basis.

Bibun’s grand nephew, Mohd Fitri Abdul Razak who plays the ‘Awang’ role said his interest and desire to preserve the heritage art has made him active for the past one year.

“When I was small, I used to see the jikey performances at weddings. It was my passion and spirit to revive the theatrical orchestra which led me together with my other relatives to master this art from three jikey teachers,” said the 25-year-old youth.



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