Semai artist brings folk tales to life in debut children’s book

The book features Saluji's own distinctive watercolour artwork. — Picture courtesy of Bridge Communication
The book features Saluji's own distinctive watercolour artwork. — Picture courtesy of Bridge Communication

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KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 5 — Bah Saluji Yeok So Alu’s book Nenek dengan Yeok Luat draws inspiration from his tribe, the Semai, and their rich oral history. It is also coloured by his own experiences foraging in the forest with his father as a young boy.

Young Semai grew up listening to tales of the adventures of 9-year-old Semai boy Yeok Luat and his faithful companion, Cooq Leek the dog.

Published in both Bahasa Malaysia and Mandarin, Saluji’s book brings Yeok Luat’s story to paper when once it was only shared by oral tradition by Semai storytellers.

The Bridge Communication-published book will feature vibrant watercolour artwork, showcasing the Orang Asli’s ties to the land.

Saluji shares stories drawn from storytellers of the Semai tribe as well as his own childhood memories. — Picture courtesy of Bridge Communication
Saluji shares stories drawn from storytellers of the Semai tribe as well as his own childhood memories. — Picture courtesy of Bridge Communication

Saluji took over a year to finish the book, and is already planning on a second. He says, “There are many more stories about adventures in the forest.”

The book was launched at the Selangor International Indigenous Arts Festival 2018 by the Raja Muda of Selangor, Tengku Amir Shah Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah. 

Saluji is currently studying graphic design at IACT College’s Training Academy for Professionals, on a scholarship from Malaysian Care and a private donor.

For a taste of the book, watch the following short video.

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