Off Walls Off Pedestals

A 1988 Statement on the Teleng Series

Posted in Teleng Series by tsabri on April 1, 2010

This is a statement about my sculpture and drawing series, Teleng Series, done in my father’s workshop in Jerteh, Terengganu in 1988.

Hulu Pipit Teleng

The Teleng series of drawings and sculptures were derived from studies of the hilts of traditional Malay dagger, the keris. The series is named after one of the most popular hilts called Hulu Anak Ayam Teleng; or, depending on variations in design, Hulu Pipit Teleng. This type of hilt was popular amongst traditional Malays in the east coast states of Peninsular Malaysia and the southern regions of Thailand. (Image of Hulu Pipit Teleng from

Traditionally, Anak Ayam / Pipit Teleng hilts were a symbol of power and authority bestowed by the King and were worn by celebrated warriors and important officials of the court. The bearers were invested by the ruling king; acknowledging to carry out matters of security and defense.

According to local folklore the name Anak Ayam / Pipit Teleng derives from an incident involving some chicks and a predatory eagle. The chicks were searching for food in a clearing when a sinister shadow fell upon them. They suddenly looked up and realized their danger. It was the chicks’ particular bodily posture at this precise moment that inspired the form of the woodcarvers’ hilts; giving birth to the name Hulu Anak Ayam / Pipit Teleng.

The sculptural forms of the Teleng series derives from these traditional forms with their combination of ‘gestural energy’ and compositional elegance; ‘gestural energy’ being a particular type of energy produced by the spontaneous response of the mind and body to certain incidents and stimuli. Particular expressions are characteristics of this energy – and it is these expressions that the sculptor was trying to portray…

Some of the Teleng forms have been, in homage to our woodcarvers and craftsmen, overlaid with traditional Malay decorative designs. These floral motifs and designs serve not as mere ornamentation but have been executed according to the traditional Malay design methodology – which encompasses certain design’s principles in relation to nature, as reflected in the following verse;

Tumbuh berpunca, / grows from a source

Punca itu rahsia, / a source in secrecy

Naik tidak memijak kawan, / climbing not stepping friends

Tikam tidak menujah lawan, / thrusting not wounding foes

Tapi melingkar penuh mesra. / but entwining in harmony

The Warrior Sat Looking...


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