03 November 2009

Facing Exotic Northern Borneo

The population of Borneo consists mainly of Dayak ethnic groups, Malay, Banjar, Orang Ulu, Chinese and Kadazan-Dusun. The religion of the majority of the population is Muslim, and some indigenous groups continue to practice animism. Meanwhile, approximately 91% of the Dayak are Christian, a religion introduced by missionaries in the 18th century. In the interior of Borneo are the Penan, some of who still live as nomadic hunter-gatherers. Some coastal areas have marginal settlements of the Bajau (sea gypsies), who historically lived in a sea-oriented, boat-dwelling, nomadic culture.

Penan woman, street portrait, headshot, elongated earlobes, stretched earlobes, holes in earlobes, Borneo, Sarawak, Gunung Mulu National Park, Batu Bungan

Penan woman, street portrait, nose flute, mongurali, elongated earlobes, stretched earlobes, holes in earlobes, Borneo, Sarawak, Gunung Mulu National Park, Batu Bungan

Kelabit man, portrait, headshot, Kelabit straw hat, Borneo, Sarawak, Kelabit Highlands, Bario

old Rungus woman, street portrait, headshot, sunhat, Borneo, Sabah, Kota Belud

Kadazan woman, people, street portrait, East Malaysia, Borneo, Sabah, Kudat central market

Kadazan man, people, street portrait, headshot, Kadazan headgear, East Malaysia, Borneo, Sabah, Kudat central market

Sama-Bajau woman, Bajan Laut, east-coast Bajan, sea gypsies, sea nomads, portrait, headshot, burak, East Malaysia, Borneo, Sabah, Mabul Island

25 March 2009

Shopping at Kota Bharu's Market

The octagonal Central Market aka Pasar Besar, arguably the most amazing building in Kota Bharu in Malaysia, houses a colourful and active market with friendly Malay market women.

Malaysian Malay, Malay market woman, traditional Malay costume, baju kurung, Malay headscarf, tudung, portrait, West Malaysia, Kelantan, Kota Bharu market

Malaysian Malay, Malay market woman, traditional Malay costume, baju kurung, Malay headscarf, tudung, portrait, West Malaysia, Kelantan, Kota Bharu market

Malaysian Malay, Malay market woman, traditional Malay costume, baju kurung, Malay headscarf, tudung, portrait, West Malaysia, Kelantan, Kota Bharu market


Street portrait photographs of market women in Matt Hahnewald's

22 January 2009

Celebrating Ecstatic Thaipusam

Thaipusam is a Hindu festival celebrated mostly by the Tamil community on the full moon in the Tamil month of Thai (January/February). In Malaysia, the temple at Batu Cavesa limestone hill with a series of caverns and temples about 12 km north of Kuala Lumpur, attracts over one million devotees, many of them with body piercings that would make a surgeon cringe.

Celebrated by Kuala Lumpur's Indian community, Thaipusam is one of the best times to visit Batu Caves. 272 steps lead to the top and just inside the front door, piles of stone slabs have fashioned out a sort of Norman arch that frames a giant, granite-carved statue of Lord Subramanian.

The main Thaipusam event takes place at the base of the hill where devotees start preparing to perform ritual acts of thanksgiving or penance. First, Hindu priests aka pujaris "bathe" them in the river by the caves, with many of them going into trances from the ritualistic prayers. They are then lanced and skewered with metal hooks, needles or spikes - a seemingly painless process because of the trance. Family and friends then guide devotees up the stairs to the main grotto of the caves, where they perform more prayers. Besides impaling themselves, followers also carry giant metal constructions (called kavadis) with offerings such as flowers and milk to the top of the caves. Some kavadis can weigh up to as much as 100 kg. Once prayers are completed, those with skewers attached to their bodies have them removed and their wounds are treated. The event continues throughout the night and into the next day with many queuing up to carry their kavadis up to the central cavern. After two days at Batu Caves the procession returns to Sri Mahamariamman Temple with thousands of people walking alongside it and performers keeping morale up with drums beating out a driving rhythm.

Thaipusam Festival; Malaysia; Kuala Lumpur; Batu Caves; ceremonial sacrifice; ceremonial offering; Tamil man; Hindu man; Malaysian Indian man; portrait; headshot

Thaipusam Festival, Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, Batu Caves, kavadi attam, ceremonial sacrifice, ceremonial offering, Tamil man, Hindu man, Malaysian Indian man, street portrait

Thaipusam Festival, Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, Batu Caves, kavadi attam, ceremonial sacrifice, ceremonial offering, Tamil man, Hindu man, Malaysian Indian man, street portrait, ritualised piercing, ritualised mutilation, self-mutilation

Thaipusam Festival, Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, Batu Caves, kavadi attam, ceremonial sacrifice, ceremonial offering, Tamil woman, Hindu woman, Malaysian Indian woman, street portrait, ritualised piercing, ritualised mutilation, self-mutilation

Thaipusam Festival, Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, Batu Caves, kavadi attam, ceremonial sacrifice, ceremonial offering, Tamil man, Hindu man, Malaysian Indian man, street portrait

Thaipusam Festival, Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, Batu Caves, kavadi attam, ceremonial sacrifice, ceremonial offering, Tamil woman, Hindu woman, Malaysian Indian woman, street portrait, trance

Thaipusam Festival, Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, Batu Caves, kavadi attam, ceremonial sacrifice, ceremonial offering, Tamil man, Hindu man, Malaysian Indian man, street portrait

Thaipusam Festival, Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, Batu Caves, kavadi attam, ceremonial sacrifice, ceremonial offering, Tamil man, Hindu man, Malaysian Indian man, street portrait, ritualised piercing, ritualised mutilation, self-mutilation

Thaipusam Festival, Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, Batu Caves, kavadi attam, ceremonial sacrifice, ceremonial offering, Tamil woman, Hindu woman, Malaysian Indian woman, street portrait, ritualised piercing, ritualised mutilation, self-mutilation

Thaipusam Festival, Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, Batu Caves, kavadi attam, ceremonial sacrifice, ceremonial offering, Tamil man, Hindu man, Malaysian Indian man, street portrait, ritualised piercing, ritualised mutilation, self-mutilation


Street portrait photographs about Thaipusam in Matt Hahnewald's
Flickr Album 2018-01a Recelebrating Ecstatic Thaipusam