THE LADY BEHIND LAWABANA
The force behind the Lawabana name is a mother of three who has worn many hats in the span of her working life. But the recurring theme throughout her career has been an involvement with the arts. Datin Seri Norazlina Awang Had’s deep appreciation for the arts started at a very young age. Her late father, Tan Sri Prof. Emeritus Dr. Awang Had Salleh, a renowned Malaysian academic, and her mother, Puan Sri Salmah Abu Bakar started to bring her along to theatre performances, art exhibitions and cultural shows when she was merely four years old. The young girl was often seen drawing, writing and even acting; lovingly encouraged by her parents to be as creative as she wanted to be.
“I used my leg to rock my baby’s cradle while my hands were busy trying to learn how to weave the serdang leaves. The first few were not at all pretty. I think my interest really grew when I realised that these objects could make my family some money. I persevered despite the first few not being any good. But I soon managed to make them look nice. It used to take me one whole day to make one basket but now I can finish it in an hour.”
“Most of the students of my early classes are now old and they can no longer weave, so I have to continue sharing this skill with even younger members of the community. Provided they have the interest, of course. I do fear that these skills will disappear forever if we do not ensure that new weavers are trained.”
“I weave both traditional designs such as the gasing (spinning top) or the tinompok. Actually these motifs are derived from ancient Rungus brassware. Most of these artefacts are no longer with us, so to remember our treasures, we weave the shapes into these small containers.”