Roslan Madun and the traditional art of syair

Roslan Madun and the traditional art of syair

The Malay form is not modelled on Arabic poetry or on any Perso-Arab genre

Roslan Madun established Anggun Performing Arts in 2000, which has conducted small and large activities every month including literary workshops, theatre and others.

SYAIR is a form of traditional Malay poetry that is made up of four-line stanzas or quatrains. The syair can be a narrative poem, a didactic poem, a poem used to convey ideas on religion or philosophy, or even one to describe a historical event.

In contrast to pantun form, the syair conveys a continuous idea from one stanza to the next, maintains a unity of ideas from the first line to the last line in each stanza, and each stanza is rhymed a-a-a-a-a.

Syair is sung in set rhythms that differ from syair to syair. The recitation of syair can be accompanied by music or not.

The word syair is derived from the Arabic word shi’r, a term that covers all genres of Arabic/Islamic poetry. However, the Malay form which goes by the name syair is somewhat different and not modelled on Arabic poetry or on any of the genres of Perso-Arab poetry.


The book and recording produced by Roslan through the Adiguru Cendana grant. – Pic courtesy of Pusaka

The earliest known record of syair is from the work of Hamzah Fansuri, a famous Malay poet in the 17th century.

Roslan Madun and his contributions to art and literature

Born in Kg Durian Tawar, Mengkarak Pahang in 1952, he started researching and popularising folk songs in 1981.

Roslan moved to Kuala Lumpur in 1982, and continued to champion folk songs, by performing in literary events and official government events throughout the country. He also performed internationally in Singapore, Indonesia, Japan and Seoul, Korea.

In 2000, Roslan returned to Temerloh and established Anggun Performing Arts. Anggun has conducted small and large activities every month including literary workshops, theatre and others.


Roslan’s students performing the syair during the closing ceremony of the Adiguru Cendana programme. – Pic courtesy of Pusaka

The Temerloh Festival is the largest event held in collaboration with MPT for five consecutive years. Many of the talents born from the various artistic competitions held by Anggun have now obtained diplomas at Aswara and some are taking degrees at local universities.

He actively guides folk songs and traditional poetry in schools, colleges and universities. Often invited to be a judge in traditional art competitions, he was active in the field of literature and received the Utusan/ExxoMobil Literary Award in the poetry category in 2006.

Roslan was also involved in the film industry in 1986, when he was appointed as art director for the film Riang Tirana. He continues to write scripts, act, direct TV and theatre dramas.

In continuation of his contributions and services in the field of art, Roslan was awarded PKC 2003, AAP 2006 & SMP 2009 by His Royal Highness the Sultan of Pahang.

Other positions held by Roslan are as a member of the Board of Directors of the Pahang State Museum and coordinator of the Literary and Cultural Appreciation Programme for the state of Melaka. He also established the Pahang State Theatre Council.

Roslan is now a full-time artist.

Adiguru Cendana is a community arts programme that aims to sustain the development and ensure continuity of Malaysian traditional art forms, implemented by Cendana (Cultural Economy Development Agency) in collaboration with cultural organisation Pusaka.

A total of 34 masters of traditional arts throughout the country have received Adiguru Cendana grants.

source – The Vibes

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