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Feb 7, 2014

4/2/14 TOP SPINNING ASEAN....a balancing act

It is a game in at least 54 countries. Most European states do spin the top. Even so do some African, South American, Arabs including Israel, Persian, South Asia, and the USA. Interestingly, Norway, Spain, German and Belgium carry the most varieties of names for it. In Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam, they called it Too Loo (Hmong). The Chinese also called it Too Loo or tuoluo. May be they have to lower their body as they play, such it came to the name of too loo. Certain part of Thailand called it Luke Khang. I couldn't find the name for it in Myanmar. But the game is well celebrated by the rural kids and elders there. In Timor Leste, the Japanese introduced it as koma sobi. In Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, and Singapore, it is called Gasing. Among all, gasing of Malaysia has much more traditional forms as compare to all the other countries. The English, there is no name for it, but since the spinning part of the object is the top portion, thus they named it to their convenience as Top Spinning. Again, just as the name of the South China Sea, the British they love to colonize and or fool this part of the world to their convenience. The first question probing my mind, where did it originate?

(2) My very best predicament is the Malays Archipelago. I would believe, the Malays were the inventors of Gasing, Ka Sing, Too Loo. The Cham and Pattani spread it to Indochina and China. The Chinese seem to adopt the Indochinese name for it. The Sulus and Maluccas may had exported it to the South Pacific. The German indeed had sailed to the South Pacific much earlier than the other European. The establishment of Marienberg missionary chapel, in the Sepik Basin in Papua New Guinea is my very reason. The German and the Malays did met in the Sepik during the height of the Old Chinese Emperors in search of the Bird of Paradise. On their way, they passed by the Visayan in South Philippines. I believe, in those day, football was still not the game of the German, thus they took the Ka Sing back to Europe and popularized it among the German colonies such as Norway, Belgium, Switzerland, etc. Thereon its spread to Russia and all the Central and Eastern Europe. The Spain, who worked hard to conquer the South Philippines, but failed, just managed to bring the Ka Sing and thus spread it to the Africa, Latin America (especially Mexico) and thus spread to the present USA. The presence of Bambaram or Latoo as what it being called in India, Rolera in Israel, Laulab in Iraq, Fer Fere in Iran, I would believe was the works of the Sea Bound Silk Road.  With all such facts, I'm confident the Ka Sing, Gasing, Too Loo is the people game of ASEAN.

(3)Based on the above thesis, the gasing indeed had connected the East to the West. In today economy, the gasing indeed paved the trading routes and trends of the ASEAN. But let me leave such to a later elaboration. First I want to focus our mind on the All Mighty Kindness and Caring of Allah to us the 560,000,000 (2012) people of ASEAN. We are indeed the second largest population grouping after EU at 740,000,000 people. Nonetheless, our population growth is far faster than EU, and I believe by 2020 we might be having more hands than them. ASEAN is a tropical countries. We are blessed with very diversified nature. We indeed is much better than Europe in lots of fields. Indeed geographically and geologically, ASEAN is a Wild Wild East. This is a region where Typhoon, Earth Quake, Volcanic Eruption, Tsunami, Diseases outbreak, and Flooding occur every now and then. Such predominant mother nature bring about the Wild Wild East socio-political nature of her communities. Never in ASEAN political endeavor, that was at any one point in time was in total peace. Political turmoil do exist, upon one onto the other.  Once things settled down in Vietnam, there will be an eruption in Kambodia, giving sort of domino effect to all the consecutive neighbors. Her political environment is behaving exactly as her mother nature. If there is no volcanic eruption in Indonesia or the Philippines, definitely there be  a typhoon somewhere else. This is the region that had been experiencing lots of political turmoils, economic crisis, military crisis, humanity crisis, etc. Probably in term of overall political vulnerability ASEAN is second worst to Central Asia, if not Africa.

(4) In my earlier article, Racing to ASEAN Unity, the Malays praws and or perahu seem to be the precursor to the regatta in the region. Again here, I would like to postulate another thesis that the Malays once again, through their ka sing, gasing could provide another unifying factor for ASEAN. Allah, as the All Mighty Loving and Caring divine, envision a wisdom in the spinning gasing for His people to ponder and act on. First, to craft a gasing is not a simple task. The purpose of the gasing must first be determined. Is it merely for uri spinning, or pangkah smashed? In other part of ASEAN, gasing is merely for the excitement of the game which is for smashing. In Malaysia, the game is a test to patience and passion. In the state of Kelantan and Trengganu, the gasing is a real top spinning. It spins on its stand for 30-60 minutes. Geometrically it need lots of skill to develop such an object to spin to such a period without any intervention.  The winner of the game is the longest spinning top.

(5) Secondly, upon determining the purpose of the gasing or the type of game one's to take, then one must select his wood source carefully. The wood must be characterized by certain grain texture, not only to give the gasing a fine finishing look, but most important is the balancing, weight, and hardiness characteristics. The best gasing is the one made of timber with the best balance fibrous traits. Indeed, to craft a gasing the balancing factor is paramount. Even gasing pangkah smashing top, the balancing is also very important. Second comes the weight, then of course the hardiness. The smashing spin could be crafted not only by the adults, but young kids do have the sklill to do the same. Indeed, gasing making is the early ASEAN childhood education in geometry and physic especially to produce the correct balance, weight and hardiness of the gasing. It is indeed an education of ingenuity among the young ASEAN.  Accordingly in the political or even social science point of view, to enable ASEAN to spin to the most stable, its need lots of balancing act both internally and externally among its members states. As ASEAN, her leaders and people must then have to have the weight and endurance to maneuver among all the interested parties to the region especially now the Chinese and West. ASEAN should never deny the Russia and immerging India.

(6) Probably after regatta, ASEAN should seriously put Top Spinning as her must celebrated game, and thus to organize such into her Regional Traditional Games and Sport Fiesta. We should take our team to row to land in a tight cohesive ASEAN regatta spirit, and thus celebrate the victorious landing to the passion of top spinning. We row the sea, we spin the earth, then I would say we fly the sky. ASEAN should be able to be great as the United Nations if the philosophical spirit of the games could be well understood and celebrated in the region. InsyaAllah.

Kuching, Sarawak
7 Feb., 2014

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