Traditions & Communities

Photo credit: Jo Quah

Photo credit: Jo Quah

1511 O Maliao Maliao Dance Troupe

PUSAKA works with the accomplished Portuguese musicians and dancers of 1511 O Maliao Maliao Dance Troupe, led by Gerard De Costa, one of the foremost cultural custodians of Portuguese Eurasian community of Malacca.


The music and dance of the Portuguese-Eurasian community of Malacca is characteristically cheerful and vivacious, using instruments such as guitars and tambourine, accordion, tambour or the Malay rebana.

Couples dance in colourful costumes similar to the folk costumes of Portugal — the men wear black bolero jackets and hats while the women wear colourful embroidered skirts. The main songs and dances include the branyo, tianika, maliao and farapeira. One of the most emblematic melodies of the Portuguese-Eurasian community of Malacca is the Jingkli Nona.

In Malacca, some songs of the Portuguese-Eurasian community are sung in old Portuguese that has been passed down orally by master singers. Others are sung in Kristang — the local creole language derived from old Portuguese mixed with Malay words and grammatical structure.

The main styles of the music and dance of the Gente Kristang are branyo and mata-kantiga. The lively branyo is derived from the Portuguese folk dance known as corridinho, found in the Algarve region of Portugal.

Since the early 16th Century, branyo has been performed in Malacca as part of the Portuguese festival of Introdu or Shrove Sunday, before the holy month of Lent. To this day branyo is still played during weddings and festivities such as Festa Senjuan (Saint John’s Feast) and Festa San Pedro (Saint Peter’s Feast).

The four main rhythms of branyo are jingkli nona, kanji-pape, sarampeh or serampang laut and chorte forte. These branyo rhythms have greatly influenced Malay joget music, so much so that Malay musicians often refer to branyo tunes as joget and Malay joget songs are referred to as branyo when performed at the Portuguese Settlement.

Photo credit: Cheryl Hoffmann

Photo credit: Cheryl Hoffmann