Raya and the Last Dragon is premiering this week!
My friends and I were so excited for the release of the movie, because this was inspired by a lot of Southeast Asian cultures.
To show our support, we decided to cosplay as the tribes of Kumadra - the land in which all tribes come together in the story.
What is the different tribes of the Kumadra?
The Heart Tribe This is where Raya is from. They live in a lush and fertile land where you can find the Magical Dragon Gem. All the other tribes believe that the reason for the tribe's lush land is this gem.
On the far left side of the region is the Fang Tribe. They live in a city of gold and white, on top of a plateau surrounded by water. This is the home of Naamari - Raya's nemesis.
The Spine Tribe lives in the snowy mountains part of the region. This tribe likes keeping to themselves.
The Talon Tribe is surrounded by water in the south, and has a huge market area where people buy and trade their wares.
The Tail Tribe This tribe lives in the dessert. And water is disappearing more and more each day.
If you look at the map of the tribe, you will see that it forms into a shape of a dragon.
I virtually talked to all of my friends about each one's heritage and how the movie and the media plays an important role in our cultures.
Tell us about your heritage
Spicythaidesign: I was born in Thailand and later moved to NZ when I was 9. I spend most of my childhood trying to be a Kiwi. It wasn’t until I was 21 I decided to focus on my own culture. Thai have amazing art and culture.
Philip Odango: Philippines and Polynesian according to Ancestry DNA
Viva Valentina: I am Mestiza Filipina.
Ani-Mia: I'm Korean and Austrian
Shining Polaris: I am a first generation Vietnamese. My parents are born and from Vietnam. They immigrated to the United States as adults. My parents have also lived through the Vietnam War and talked about it a lot to myself and my brother. They taught me the language and a lot of the customs they did with their family. My mom is Catholic and my dad is Buddhist. It was very interesting to learn both of these religions and their rituals growing up.
Dhareza Cosplayza: I'm Indonesian.
What is the importance of representation about your heritage / culture in media ?
Law: Asians have endured as much stereotype as any other race in history. Even in this day-in-age we face racism and negative stereotypes even from other minorities. Despite this, we still find ways to stand tall and not allow negativity bring us down.
Spicythaidesign: There are more to Thailand than just Thai food and Muay Thai. I want to showcase how beautiful and details Thai Culture is. I want people to be able to tell it’s Thai art like how they can tel it’s Japanese when they see it.
Monica: Growing up in the Philippines has showed me that there will always be infinite stories to tell. Coming from a country with more than seven thousand islands, diversity is a constant thing we experience on a daily basis. And living in the US since my early twenties, I sometimes would feel homesick. I have seen media evolving through the years to become more diverse and share different cultures and stories. And in some way, movies such as Raya, Crazy Rich Asians, and other movies portraying Asian culture that I have grown to know makes me feel at home.
Philip Odango: Disney continues the exploration of cultural themes, and it is exciting to see South and Southeast Asia represented with its diverse and rich cultures. I'm looking forward to experiencing the colorful and poignant influences of the Philippines and surrounding cultures.
Viva Valentina: Representation in the media is important to me because it is an acknowledgment of my identity. Asian peoples are not a monolith, Asian-Americans are not a monolith, and Filipinos are not a monolith. Sharing diverse stories with elements derived from my culture is not only empowering and validating. But teaches others to recognize me and appreciate those unique elements my culture has to offer.
Ani-Mia: When we consume media, we naturally gravitate towards the characters that are similar to ourselves. It helps us not only feel like we are part of the story, but we also learn about ourselves. As a child of mixed heritages living in the US, seeing my culture in media not only taught me about my own background, but also made me feel more acknowledged and accepted.
Shining Polaris: When I graduated high school and entered into my collage years, it was very important for me to find more Asian friends and as a result I joined an Asian Sorority. It is very important to me to see more Asians being represented and represented positively because I feel their isn't to much of such out there. As a child I love watching Anime. But my friends and the way main stream anime represented Asians were all stereotypical and not always accurate. My friends didn't know any better and assume all Asians acted that way. One of the missions we had as a Sorority was to spread positive awareness and educate students on what our culture is about.
Dhareza Cosplayza: As an Indonesian, there aren't many instances of my culture portrayed in the media. While that is changing, more media representation is good for everyone. It gives people from children to adults more options on characters to look up to. As a cosplayer, most of the characters I've chosen to recreate have never matched my heritage. There's a more meaningful connection to my cosplay build now that there's a deeper connection.
What inspired you to create your look for this tribe?
Law: The clan in white appear to have a more contemporary style which I'd like to explore.
Spicythaidesign: I love the weapon. In Thailand I would see my grand parents working in the rice paddy. I love the yellow colour.
Philip Odango: The Spine tribe represents the strength and might of Kumandra and every kingdom needs a backbone to endure. The trailer shows a pretty tough looking bunch, and I'm excited to tap into that fortitude and solidarity.
Monica: My look is a mix of fabric you will see that the characters wear in the Talon Tribe, and fabric that I used to see in our local market- Divisoria, in the Philippines. I instantly picked purple because it's one of my favorite colors. And later on I would find out that the Talon Tribe is the Kumandra market place. So this all worked out perfectly. Our Ifugao tribes in the Philippines would have shawls and fabic wrapped around them, so I did a similar look and incorporated this to my cosplay.
Viva Valentina: I was inspired by the outfit Raya is shown wearing as a child. I sought to create a comfortable and movable training outfit with the “wrapped” top look, the waist sash, and harem style pants! (that I may or may not still be wearing)
Ani-Mia: I really liked the armor and the regal-ness
Shining Polaris: When I was little, we use to go to our Vietnamese Church often. My parents would dress me in Ao Dai. It was always Yellow in color because they told me that color was lucky. As for the look I was trying to go for a super organic look. Simple and earth tones.
Dhareza Cosplayza: The moment I saw the teaser trailer for Raya, I knew I had to make something for it. Initially, I was going to make the sword, but once I got wind of this group, I was excited to create a whole character. The mask used in the trailer was a showstopper. And if there's anything that can stop me in my tracks, it's a good mask.
Tell us about your build process. Please include any key details that you're including to your look.
Law: I'm mainly a foam-smith with a beginner level in sewing (but it gets the job done).
Spicythaidesign: For this build I want to focus on the props. I feel that costume should be simple. If you were going to battle you would want to be comfortable. But I really want to put some level of details in the props. Asking the weaving to the shield. As bamboo would be one of the material they would use. And ofcourse adding my Thai art into the props.
Philip Odango: My cosplay is constructed from inexpensive pieces sourced from the thrift store or upcycled materials. The top pieces are modified garments and the fisherman pants I patterned and sewed from remnant fleece. The axe blade made from cardboard and painted with acrylics, the shift is made from a kraft paper roll and the cloth pieces are tied on.
Monica: I enjoyed mixing natural fibers like cotton and silk into this project. I made sure I had lots of textures showing in the garments, so I created my own fabric and stitched the pieces together to create a diamond with different colors from the tribe. I also had some jewelry made of sea shells that I bought from the Philippines. I found a 3d file for a dagger and had my husband print it. And I wrapped around the handle of the dagger with woven material I made out of Dollar Tree placemats.
Viva Valentina: The main pieces of my costume are the top and the bottoms. I am proud of the top because It was the first pattern I ever drafted using the drape and draft method. I used a released photo of Raya as a child as reference and went from there! I used a pair of harem pants I owned to draft a pattern for the pants in a look and style I wanted.
Ani-Mia: I wanted to showcase the cultural background of the costumes and decided to stuck with more traditional wrap techniques for my build. I also looked for fabrics that had similar patterns and textures to those traditionally used.
Shining Polaris: I tried to keep my look very simple and organic. I purpose kept wrinkles and wear and discolor to make it look as natural as possible
Dhareza Cosplayza: I made the mask completely out of Worbla by hand in the span of 8 hours. I can't feel my fingers anymore, but it was all worth it. The clothes were all made from templates I made over the years that luckily matched the look of the chosen character.
Is there anything else you would like to mention?
Law: I have studied eskrima in the past, not very useful for cosplay since I'm not beating anyone down with it. But fun to see LOL.
Spicythaidesign: It has been an amazing experience doing this project. Thank you for asking me to be apart of this. To Disney for bring our South East Asian to the world. I am so looking forward to seeing the movie.
Monica: I am really excited for Raya and the Last Dragon Movie. I think this will be the beginning of more stories from Southeast Asian culture that we will see in media in years to come. I am excited with these possibilities, especially since the Philippines and Asia in general has such a rich and colorful lore that is worthy of being shared.
Philip Odango: Raya and the Last Dragon is such a wonderful addition to the Disney family and I'm looking forward to watching the movie with my siblings and nephew and nieces, and I can't wait to see all the inspired cosplays coming soon.
Ani-Mia: Thank you so much for inviting me to this group full of incredible cosplayers. I honestly cannot wait to see the movie!
You can find all of our social medias in the images below -
Shining Polaris Cosplay
Special thanks to Philp Odango for putting our group together.