Friday, July 29, 2011

Educating Brad: Payae

Y'all must be wondering: what is payae? What language is Brad learning now? my quest to be the Tourism Ambassador for Southeast Asia, I have to learn the customs and culture of the people in this region. It's quite a challenge considering that there are many countries and about half a billion people living here. But I persevere....

Last weekend, Mama brought me to a function organised by the Myanmar community in Kuala Lumpur. While some members of the community are recent arrivals, some have migrated here since the early 1990s and have even married locals as well as became citizens. The event we attended was the happy occasion of a prize giving ceremony of a school serving the community. Mama's office has been implementing educational programmes at the school such as giving them computers, computer lessons, English language lessons, skills training, sports and income generation projects. Hence the invitation to the event.

Oooh...but I digress. Now, what is payae? Payae is the Myanmarese word for facial tattoo!

As I was soaking in the sights and sounds...OK, they were speaking in a language I don't recognise, I noticed that some of the ladies and children had a sort of pattern drawn on their faces. Busybody me began asking questions, to the ladies of course. I found out that it is a Myanmarese custom to "wear" this facial decor as an identification of sorts - a mark of Myanmarese-ness. (I wonder if Burmese cats have the same pattern drawn on their faces).

Legend has it that hundreds of years ago, ancient kings and nobles of ancient Burma go deep into the hills and jungles to capture beautiful tribal maidens, and made them concubines at the courts and palaces. So, the tribespeople decided to "destroy" the beauty that those evil noblemen seek. This was done by tattooing the face of young girls. As soon as a girl enters the age of puberty, tattoo is applied onto her face – the pattern of the tattoo being the one according to the tribe she belongs. The process of facial tattooing is quite painful and dangerous. Some even died of infection. The practice has been outlawed since 1960s, but some still practiced until around 1980s. The facial tattooing is no longer practiced anymore, even in the remotest areas. Although nobody could authenticate the validity of this story, many Myanmarese girls, especially those I saw at the event are indeed very beautiful.
Feast your eyes and tell me if these people (especially the girls) aren't beautiful, with or without payae....But I don't know why some of the boys wear it too. Forgot to ask their mothers.

This boy is so cute that Mama wants to take him home.
Another boy with a pattern on his face.
This lady is a beauty.....hmmm....the decor can't really hide her beauty, eh?
I think this boy doesn't really like being decorated as such when his sister escaped the same fate.
Mother and child....lovely aren't they?
This lady sells the facial decor material. And she's the advertisement for her products.
I'm guessing it's the liquid at the top left corner.
My favourite....thank God she didn't "wear" the facial decor.
The Myanmar community in Malaysia consists of mainly the Rohingyas, a predominantly Muslim ethnic group of Arakan in western Myanmar. The Rohingya population is mostly concentrated to the cities of Maungdaw, Buthidaung, Akyab, Rathedaung and Kyauktaw. There are now about 700,000 of them left in this whole wide world as they've been persecuted and chased away from their homeland since the 1940s. The Rohingya language is linguistically similar to the Chittagonian language spoken in the southernmost part of Bangladesh bordering Myanmar. can I forget? We also ate Burmese dishes and even bottled drinks specially imported from Myanmar. The drinks are very colourful, sweet,  non-carbonated and usually served with lime.

Guests at the buffet station.
Specially imported green drink.
....and red as well.
This is the vegetarian buffet section.
....and fruits for dessert.
The meat dish up close. I don't know what it's called.
The graduates!!!! The festivities were all for them.

Brad says: Mama, may I wear payae too? har har har *evil laughs*


CATachresis said...

Brad, you already have payae. Your whiskers!

How very exotic it all seems to me, a western cat. Though I am told you can see payae on some faces in western countries. It's called Rimmel :)

Love the food yum! >^,,^<

Cat-from-Sydney said...

I'm learning so many new things in this new country of mine. Everyday brings a new challenge too. Oh aplenty. har har har *evil laughs*

m.q said...

you already got it Brad!!!!

much love;
BoBo Salem & the gang

Sandy said...

Ahahaha so that's payae ! Gosh I hate politics, they've destroyed way too many lives.

meowwmania said...

tatu kat muka aduhh kejamnya..

Ellen Whyte said...

Looks like you had fun, Brad. But I agree, you already have payae in your whiskers!

mokja said...

In those old days of yore,mamason wore bedak sejuk on her face.But it was spread all over the face.And sometimes the thick rice flour powder made her resembled tepong they call it in the north.
Now her children dont even know what bedak sejuk is ....
Oh well,your post enlightened mamason on what the burmese ladies wear on their faces.

Pi Bani said...

Ha'ah laa... muka Brad macam dah ada payae jer...

Cat-from-Sydney said...

m.q. dear,
Huh? I'm checking the mirror now. har har har *evil laughs*

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Tante Sandy,
That's why we prefer to remain as cats! No complication. har har har *evil laughs*

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Aunty Meoww,
Sungguh kejam. har har har *evil laughs*

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Au & Target,
Am checking the mirror....again. har har har *evil laughs*

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Tepong gombak? Ada gambar? har har har *evil laughs*

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Aunty Pi,
Ye ke? Puaslah cari kat cermin.... har har har *evil laughs*

Lady of Leisure said...

kalau sapu di muka arri susah skit nak nmpak ni sbb sama colour dengan bulu dia hehe...

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Kalau Arri pakai payae, Nikki pun nak kot. har har har *evil laughs*

RoySr said...

I learn something new every day. Quite interesting this post today. Thanks for the update on my education.

Some of our kitties have facial deco, but it didn't come out of a jar. It was a package deal.

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Uncle Roy,
Am glad to be of service to you, sir. har har har *happy laughs*

LP said...

We tried making payae with rice flour powder but it made our furs all gooey and our whiskers stuck to our cheeks....

the critters in The Cottage

P.S.Interesting post!

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Cottage Felines,
Oh....but why? har har har *evil laughs*

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Good job educating your fans on different ethnic and cultural groups, Brad! Those foods -- ludi fida is the "thosai" like rice flour pancakes. "Shemai" is the sweet liquid dessert made of wheat with cashewnuts, raisins and jaggery. "Durus kura" is fried chicken, Rohingya style.

Cat-from-Sydney said...

I like the sound of Durus Kura. Fired chicken, eh? yummmm.... you see I really want to land the job as Tourism Ambassador of Southeast Asia. So, I must work hard. har har har *evil laughs*