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Two Malaysians Set Out To Archive The Diversity Of Malaysia On Instagram

Two Malaysians Set Out To Archive The Diversity Of Malaysia On Instagram

We’re all Malaysian first.

Anne Dorall

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Malaysia is celebrated for being a diverse melting pot. Ethnicity plays a big part in our lives, and culture shapes everything from what we eat to how we present ourselves.

In an effort to document the amazing diversity of the country, RP Project aims to showcase all Malaysians in traditional attire.

Helmed by content creator Pearl Tan and photographer Raisa Azzam, the RP Project is an ambitious undertaking that involves Malaysians of all ethnicities in a creative setting. Thus, A Malaysian Archive was born, featuring everyday Malaysians in connection with their roots.

A Malaysian Archive presents everyday Malaysians in beautiful traditional wear. This includes oft-overlooked Malaysians of non-major ethnicities, like the Berawan, Dusun Liwan, and Baba Nyonya; as well as Malaysians of mixed heritage, which doesn’t make them any less Malaysian!

They include interviews of the diverse personalities, touching upon topics of culture, personal experience, and how ethnicity shapes their lives.

While the idea began with two friends throwing suggestions at each other, the initial project garnered astonishing response from the community.

We initially thought at most 10 people will respond back, but the first day itself we already had 30 inquiries!

Pearl Tan to TRP

In fact, they soon began to receive support from sponsors and collaborators who wanted to take part. Sean Koay, a Chinese-Peranakan collector of vintage baba nyonya outfits, loaned his collection to the project. SPG By Bijan sponsored their artfully decor venue to be used. And of course, volunteers signed up and showed up to share their personal stories and culture with the project.

View this post on Instagram

Sean Koay Thian Juan ( @juansean_ ) Ethnicity: Chinese Peranakan (Baba Nyonya) Sean is a culture enthusiast who enjoys investing his time in researching and finding connections of his heritage with other communities around the Malay Archipelago. He finds joy in sharing his heritage from antique textiles to food. Sean has just recently embarked his journey on building his F&B start up – GALANGAL (@Galangal_KL) about Penang Nyonya Food. His goal is to open a humble eatery serving good, affordable and unintimidating meals for Malaysians. "To understand a culture, we have to taste it." Traditional Wear: Batik Print Shirt paired with his Great-great Grandmother's ibu kerongsang #amalaysianarchive

A post shared by A Malaysian Archive (@amalaysianarchive) on

Our generation is full of amazing mixes and we hope to showcase the beauty of Malaysia- not just to Malaysians- but everybody in the world!

Pearl Tan to TRP

The project is nowhere near finished, as RP Project are still looking for more volunteers to take part to grow the archive. With enough portraits, they hope to display all these stories in an exhibition to be shared worldwide.

There are easily 40-70 ethnicities in East Malaysia alone and we hope to capture their stories. Besides that, we would love to expand the range of ages as well.

Pearl Tan to TRP

For those interested to take part in A Malaysian Archive, feel free to reach out to them on their Instagram.


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