Shining The Spotlight On Disappearing Heritage Of Langkawi

Published in TTR Weekly

Langkawi is not shy of cultural heritage to show the world. It is well known for its myths and folklore, yet there are more to discover in Langkawi. Skills and art from the older generation are what formed the present-day glory. Sadly, not all cultural heritage is preserved due to the lack of interests from the younger generation.

Jikey – Langkawi Folk Theatre
When it comes to having a good laugh at a wedding, shows and feasts, villagers would always turn to jikey troupes. Jikey is a form of multicultural folk theatre centred around comedy, following the beats of kompang (drum), gong and cerek (bamboo stick). The upbeat and lively jikey is contagious, combining both singing as well as theatrical performance. The stage was still energetic even at the wee hours. The spectators always wanted more! Back then, villagers would go home with an aching stomach from all the laughter.

That was the golden memories from those days. Not many youngsters know about this theatre nowadays. This 200-year-old tradition is at its dawn with only one surviving troupe – Ayer Hangat Jikey Troupe led by Tok Bibon (85), Tok Chan (78) and Tok Cho (94). All of them have been playing jikey since they were kids. As the last three elders that hold the knowledge of jikey, they are now passing the art to the coming generations. They hope that this remains a form of entertainment for the community.

Watch the micro-documentary here:

Pandai Kayu who made living spaces a craft
Pandai Kayu, or the wood expert, is a Malay term that describes a carpenter with great woodcraft. Pak Dun is one Pandai Kayu who has learned how to build traditional Malay stilt houses since young.

Learning from his relative and bit by bit, from sharpening chisels and saws to woodcutting, Pak Dun was diligent and slowly got the hang of it. He only got to hold a pencil and try-square – a sign that you can finally figure out the architecture of the house – after nailing all the basic skills.

Back then building houses is a community effort. Even the architecture of the houses is made for the feasts-loving villagers. The houses are roomy and with wide verandahs – all so that they can serve good food to the community in a lively gathering.

Pak Dun is passionate about the attentiveness in crafting every single wood that goes into building a house. In the olden days, houses were built using wedges and pegs only where no nails are needed. Each wood measurement must be precise, and accuracy is the key to a long-lasting house. Because of this craft, the house can be dismantled, moved and reassembled at a new location.

The traditional Malay stilt house is also facing a dead end with the younger generation preferring modern houses. This construction knowledge also finds no successor. Reviving this cultural identity of Langkawi must become a new way forward.

Watch the micro-documentary here:

This cultural heritage can become future attractions by highlighting cultural products as part of tourism. A series of micro-documentary videos now showcases various kinds of cultural experience in Langkawi through authentic storytelling.

Check out the rest of the micro-documentary below:
Pandai Kayu:
Gua Pinang:
Beras Terbakar:
Jungle Herbs:
Jungle Herbs 2:
Laktud (Green algae):
Jikey (folk theatre):
Kebuk Arang:
Horse Riding:

About Langkawi Development Authority (LADA)
Langkawi Development Authority (LADA) was established by the federal government to plan, promote and implement development on the island of Langkawi. LADA was officially established on March 15, 1990 under the Langkawi Development Authority Act 1990 (Act 423) and placed under the authority of the Ministry of Finance.

For further details, please visit or visit

Langkawi Development Authority, LADA
Tel : 04-9600600
Faks : 04-9661019
Email : [email protected]

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