Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Sarong Kebaya and Saloma

Saloma posing with a paper umbrella . This is a very famous advertisement photo of hers. The paper umbrella unknown to many, is a lacquered paper umbrella made in Fuzhou City, China. After 40 years Fuzhou city is still producing this kind of umbrellas but they are more beautiful and are snapped up by foreign tourists. Because of this photo many young girls carried umbrellas for their photographs.

Beautiful Saloma.

A more modern Malaysian beauty in a very up to date Sarong Kebaya

Joget girls and Kampong men doing a number in the 50's or 60's,the dancers do not touch each other. Known as a social dance then, it is not often performed publicly today. In private parties the Malays might still dance the joget. Perhaps it can be compared the the western barn dance or square dance. But the moves are not so varied. However it has lovely foot work.

A popular Umie Aida.

Living in Kampong Nyabor,Sibu gave me a chance to interact closely with my Malay neigbhours and school mates.This was another facet of my school life. My school provided a multi racial education. I cycled to school with my friends Hapipah and Hasnah every morning after I was given a bicycle. But what was very very exciting was our special love for P Ramlee, Saloma ,Siput Sarawak and the like. School girls like us talked non stop about our movie stars the way kids talk about their pop singers, or Malaysian Idols today. Malay movies were abundant whereas Elvis ,Cliff Richard and Doris Day came rather irregularly. Cathay Keris was doing better in those days. The Sibu Malay population consumed Malay language films voraciously.

My family had a wonderful Malay washerwoman (Kak) who also became a life long friend of my mother's and she would repeat the stories of Bujang Lapok,Orang Sebelah,etc to us. Perhaps that was how I picked up my Bahasa,Sarawak style. Until today I still cannot grasp Bahasa Malaysia, the National Standard totally.

It was always the cheap seats of 50 cents for us when the Pontianak movies came. We frightened ourselves out of our chairs being so near the screen. But it was childhood joy.

A very great longing however was developed in us school girls - to wear those see through Kebaya but we were not allowed them. Mum had said that the blouse was too sexy. My first sarong kebaya was a blue cotton batik set, made for my university orientation week. Thus it took me more than 7 years to get my kebaya after I first saw Saloma in her movies, although my own paternal grandmother Chong was a Nyonya from Java. (She had worn sarong kebaya when she first arrived in Sibu in the early 1920's. Later she turned totally Foochow and wore samfoo). My Chong cousins continued to wear beautiful made in Indonesia sarong kebaya on Important Occasions.

Associated with the Sarong Kebaya were the dances joget and the Cha Cha. We school girls were not allowed to learn them as was the norm of the time. But later at the university I picked up some clumsy steps but I never got to dance the joget wearing sarong kebaya. Nevertheless, I continue to think that the sarong kebaya has a very long lasting charm for the Asian women. Today it is back in fashion again.

But at my age,unfortunately, I don't have Saloma's tiny waist anymore.


Who is this intriguing lady named Saloma? She who captured the hearts of Malaysia’s foremost musician-actor, P. Ramlee, and millions who had the pleasure of watching her sing live or emote on the silver screen some 3 or 4 decades ago?

Salmah Ismail was born on 23 January 1935 in Singapore. Some believed that her stage name SALOMA was given to her by Run Run Shaw of Shaw Bros when the film Salome which starred Rita Hayworth hit the Box Office. While others said it was coined by the 'love of her life' husband, P.Ramlee.

As a child, she had dreams of becoming a big 'star' and it was no surprise that she was already a household name and a 'little singing sensation' at weddings, festive and family events barely at the age of 13.

'I Am In The Mood For Love', 'Once In A While' were among the first English numbers she learnt. With that, she broke into the nightclub circuit. Her acclaimed crystal clear and melodious voice captivated and mesmerised those who came far and wide to watch her perform. Soon after, offers to act came by and like the saying goes... the rest was history.

Charming , attractive and tinged with a look of innocence, she acted in numerous films and played lead roles which featured her prominent singing ability. Along with her husband, Saloma was a lead member of Panca Sitara Group. She also sung with the Kalung Senandung Group at Radio Singapura.

In 1961 Saloma married fellow actor P.Ramlee, an affable man of many talents. Adored by all, the country's very own 'screen couple' was a household name. Their movies were all 'sold-outs' and each a must-see and certainly 'not to be missed'.

Puan Sri Saloma passing at a young age of 48 on 25 April 1983 left the nation with profound sadness and an end to a era of screen romance. Till today, her movies and those acted along with Tan Sri P.Ramlee are classics and are still screened for the enjoyment of many... it's what legends are made of.

1975 Awarded the Ahli Mangku Negara (AMN)
1979 Biduanita Negara (National Celebrity Award)

Bila Larut Malam
Tiru Macam Saya
Burung Pungguk
Dimanakan Ku Cari Ganti
Taman Firdausi

Seniman Bujang Lapok
Ragam P.Ramlee
Labu dan Labi
Sabarudin Tukang Kasut
Ahmad Albab

2008 © Copyright All Reserved. SALOMA Theatre Restaurant. Disclaimer Notes

6 memories:

Mumble jumble said...

I've always thought that the Kebaya was a very elegant and sophisticated.
It can be worn on any occasion with just a few ornaments worn at the right places.
The more lace the prettier the kebaya becomes. I aim to be able to wear the kebaya at the end of this year and look every inch a vintage malay movie star. With the beehive hairstyle :p

I Am Sarawakiana said...

Hi free bird

nice to hear from you again. Yes it would be nice to see you elegant and pretty like a Malay film that walk along KLCC and tons of guys will follow you home. J ust Kidding.(I remember one uncle following a girl wearing a mini skirt after his exercise. She became his wife and they lived happily ever after.


Mumble jumble said...

Did you know wearing a kebaya gives you that certain, hip swaying, walk?

I just tried wearing one. I'm so happy that I can finally look good in a kebaya(minus the 'breathtaking' girdle)

Especially when the sarong is tight.
Women do have this walk without them realising it.

I Am Sarawakiana said...

Yes I remember asll the ladies who wore sarong kebaya in Sibu. They did have that very attractive and unstressed style of walking.

These days ladies walk differently .

Pak Runa said...

Nice post. Nice blog.

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