Kelantan is a state in Malaysia’s northeast, bordering on Thailand, which it was a part of until 1909, when it came under British control with other Malay States. Its location and natural surroundings (the jungle to the south, the South China Sea to the east) cut Kelantan off from the rest of the peninsula, sometimes quite literally during the rainy season, when the East Coast reliably flooded. Left to its own devices, Kelantan developed many arts, craft, food and language which are unique to the area, including Wayang Kulit, the shadow play. Kelantanese, like Mak Cik Maryam, are quite proud of their culture and their reputation as ‘real Malays.’
  • Here I am, having recently arrived in Kelantan in 1977. I am sitting on the steps of my house (all three rooms) in Kampong Dusun, Kota Bharu.
    Steps at Home
  • It’s Hari Raya (the end of the fasting month) in 1981, and I am with Wan Hamidah Wan Nawang, with whom I lived. I’m wearing Kain Songket!
    Wan Hamida
  • The river flowing into the sea at Sabak beach in Northern Kelantan. I took the picture very early in the morning, when the sun first came up. It is one of my favorite pictures of Kelantan, and I think it captures the beauty of the country.
    Sabak at Dawn
  • This was Kelantan take-out in the late 1970’s.
    Selling Snacks
  • Pantai Sabak, a beach near Kota Bharu, usually crowded with fishing boats.
    Pantai Sabak