10 Things You Should Know is a series of short animated videos on aspects of Malay culture and heritage. In our latest video of the series, we share 10 facts on the Gasing. This series of animated videos is produced in collaboration with Wisma Geylang Serai.
You can also view this video on Youtube.
1.It is believed that the gasing was introduced to the Malay Archipelago by Middle Eastern traders, who conducted trade in Malacca. It was a popular game during the time of the Malaccan Sultanate. Even today, gasing pangkah is renowned in the state of Malacca, where gasing competitions continue to be held.
2.The term for the spinning top in Malay, gasing, is a portmanteau or a blend of two words: “ga-” or “ka-” refers to kayu or wood, the main material used to make a gasing, and “-sing” refers pusing or spin, the moving quality of the gasing.
3.The gasing may have different terminologies depending on the country and its respective regions: in Indonesia, different regions have specific terms for the gasing. While the Riau Islands refer to the gasing as it is, people in East Kalimantan refer to gasing as begasing, whereas in Yogyakarta, the gasing can have two different names depending on the material of the gasing: wood tops are called pathon, while those made of bamboo are called gangsinga.
4.The gasing can come in various shapes and styles, which may vary based on the region. One of the most common shapes include the berembang-shaped gasing, which takes its namesake from the berembang fruit. The shape of the gasing is important, as it determines whether the gasing can spin or strike well.
5.The gasing may also have other unique shapes that may represent cultural aspects of the region; for example, the gasing jantung is aptly named due to its similar shape to a banana heart, a popular ingredient in Malay cooking.
6.Gasing was a fun, traditional pastime for farmers in the past, who believed that playing the gasing would beget a bountiful harvest. Farmers often challenged each other by playing gasing after working hard during the harvest season.
7.The choice of wood to make a gasing is critical, as it determines the balance of the gasing. The types of wood often used to make a gasing include cengal, ciku or mangrove. The quality of the wood has to be hard and malleable, and any slight imperfections in the wood, such as holes or cracks, will affect the balance of the gasing.
8.In order to successfully ‘launch’ a gasing, it is important to take note of how the string is wound around the gasing. The tautness and neatness of the wound string is vital to a gasing’s launch; a loose and unkempt string would cause the string to unravel or result in a weak spin.
9.There are two different types of gasing tournaments that remain popular today: gasing pangkah (striking match); gasing uri/pusing (spinning match). Gasing pangkah requires each contestant to strike an opponent’s gasing in order to push it out of the circle, or to make the gasing lose balance and topple over. In gasing uri/pusing, the contestant who spins their gasing longest wins the tournament.
10.The longest, non-stop gasing tournament was held in 2012 in Kuala Pilah, Negeri Sembilan. This record was made by Zulkarin Isa, who has achieved many accolades in gasing pangkah for over 20 years.
Malay Village will keep gasing spinning” by Mardiana Abu Baka, The Straits Times, October 28, 1987.
“Keeping The Traditional Game Of Gasing Alive” by Jessica Santos Going Places. September, 2015.
“Gasing” by Stephanie Ho
Gasing, From Children’s Game To Professional Sport” by Southeast Asia, https://www.
“Traditional Games in Malaysia - Gasing” by Cincau (blog), Jul 15, 2014.
“Game of Gasing in Indonesia: Traditions and History” by Le Bel Objet, Jul 7, 2022.
“Gasing Permainan Tradisional Orang Melayu Lama” by CP Haril for TEHOKAW.COM (Blog), June 26,2021. https://www.tehokaw.com/2021/
“Reviving the traditional gasing spinning” by BERNAMA. Astro Awani. January 12, 2022.
10 Things You Should Know is the first of a series of videos on Malay culture and heritage, created by ArtsEquator and commissioned by Wisma Geylang Serai. It is a continuation of an earlier series by ArtsEquator, featuring batik, gamelan, Malay dance and others, which you can check out here.
The videos in this series are sponsored by Wisma Geylang Serai. The money earned from paid advertising goes towards covering ArtsEquator’s running costs and paying our writers and content creators. We have a strict policy regarding which content which can and cannot be sponsored. To read more about our editorial policy, please go here.
About the author(s)
Muhd Noramin Mohd Farid (Soultari) is a choreographer, arts educator and researcher from Singapore. He received his Doctorate in Theatre and Dance studies (2021) from Royal Holloway, University of London, UK. He is a recipient of the ASEAN-India Youth Award (2018), Singapore Youth Award (2017), National Arts Council Scholarship (2017) and Goh Chok Tong Mendaki Youth Promise Award (2016). Amin is the Joint-Artistic Director of Bhumi Collective, a multidisciplinary performing art and producing company. He writes occasionally for Arts Equator, Straits Times and the Esplanade Theatres by the Bay.