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Sunday, February 1, 2009


The Rajah’s personal memorial was designed by a Mr.Denis Santry of Messrs.Swan & Maclaren, Architects Singapore, who later also designed several public building in Sarawak, including the present General Post Office. It is in the form of a granite obelisk about twenty feet high with a bronze panel sunk into the stone on each corner on which are raised figures of a Malay, a Dayak, a Chinese and Kayan. On the front side which faces the Astana, there is a bas relief of Sir Charles Brooke in marble, while below on a bronze tablet ia an inscription giving the principal dates of his life and reign. Above are the old Crest and Arms of Sarawak. When Sir Charles Brooke, second Rajah of Sarawak, died in May 1917, just one month short o his 88th birthday, he had devoted sixty-five years of his life to the peoples of Sarawak- forty-nine of them as Rajah. In appreciation of this great service to the State, it was decided that a fund should be raised for the purpose of erecting some form of lasting personal memorial to him in this country. This was largely because although the old Rajah had often expressed a wish to be buried in Sarawak, fate decreed otherwise since he died in England during the First World War. Despite the fact that his body was embalmed and placed in a vault which the intention of sending it to Sarawak for interment as soon as the opportunity arose, after a wait of just over two years, it was finally decided to lay him to rest beside his uncle, the first Rajah, in the little country churchyard of Sheepstor, Devon.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Pua Kumbu is a popular native handicraft

The Pua Kumbu is a popular native handicraft of the Ibans, one of the indigenous group of Sarawak, Malaysia. Translated literally pua kumbu means a blanket or a coverlet.This colourful cloth, woven with intricate combinations of various designs and colours, however, serves, more significant functions other than that of providing cover. In the olden days, the pua kumbu was very much an integral part of the day affair and special rituals of the Iban society. One or more pieces of pua kumbu were hung prominently in the midst of joyous gatherings such as harvest or weddings. The art of making pua kumbu is a much-valued tradition passed on from mothers to daughters.
Lagend has it that about 24 generations ago, Singgalang Burong, the God Of War, taught his grandson, Surong Gunting, how to use the most sacred of all the pua, the Lebur Api, at the end of a war. The heads of their fallen enemies were received ceremonially on this cloth, which had been dyed a deep red colour. This pua was woven at Batu Gelong, the longhouse which was home to the goddesses of weaving, namely Kuman, Indai Abang, and Lullong.
The pua kumbu has come a long way since its magical and mythical beginnings. This beautiful textile is often seen at major fashion shows regionally and internationally. A true taste of Sarawak, the pua kumbu has stood steadfastly and proudly in the face of modernization.

Sunday, November 23, 2008





Kuching is an excellent place to buy Borneo arts, crafts and curios. Particular items to look out for are Iban Pua Kumbu(hand-woven rugs), wooden hornbill carvings used in rituals, and silver jewellery, Bidayuh basket weaving, Orang Ulu beadwork and woodcarving, and Penan blowpipes and mats. Most of the antique and curio shops are scattered along Main Bazaar, with a few in the Padungan area. Whilst a few are laid out like elegant galleries, most are crammed full with every possible variety of Sarawakian bric-a-brac, and items from Brunei, Kalimantan and Sabah. Fabriko, set in a lovingly restored Chinese shophouse on Main Bazaar, has interesting souvenirs, exclusive textiles and fashion items downstairs whilst the upper two floors house a gallery and showroom. Other well-established outlets on Main Bazaar include Native Arts. Nelson's Gallery, Rainforest, Sarawak House and Arts of Asia, all offering quality antiques and handicrafts at reasonable prices. The Telang Usan hotel has a small outlet specialising in Orang Ulu and Penan crafts, including some excellent modern beadwork and traditional headgear.

Prices of handicrafts are not always fixed so you may have to bargain. If you have the time it's best to shop around and get a rough idea before buying. Certain antiques require an export permit from Sarawak Museum. The more established shops can assist with this and with shipping arrangements(if required). Most art and craft shops close on Sundays.

For more general shopping, the main malls are Riverside Shopping Centre(next to the Crown Plaza), with includes a Parkson department store, Sarawak Plaza(next to the Holiday Inn) and Tun Jugah(opposite Sarawak Plaza) which has a good range of outlets selling men's and women's fashions. Other good places to go bargain hunting are Electra House(next to the Covered Market), Wisma Hopoh(Jln P.Ramlee) and Wisma Satok(Jln Satok), Wisma Seberkas and new shopping centre Spring and Boulevard.

Rainforest Music Festival 2007

Vanishing Tattoos of Borneo - Bejalai

The Headhunters of Borneo