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Malaysia Travel Guide

Little Known Secrets of the Beads of Borneo

From the Zulu warriors in South Africa, to the ancient Egyptians of North Africa, to the pilgrims of the Middle East or South America, beads have a presence in many cultures but the one commonality is that they have always been more than an eye-catching accessory. The story of the beads of Borneo is no exception.

For many cultures, they were a currency, or perhaps a sign of faith, a symbol of wealth or a family heirloom to be treasured for future generations. Whatever the purpose, the one consistency is that they are always a way of expression.

Sarawak in Malaysian Borneo has a unique relationship with the beads of Borneo. Although there isn’t any definitive evidence of when exactly the beads came to the region, there is evidence to suggest beads were first used in Borneo by visiting sailors for bartering. Back then, beads were made out of shells, teeth, bones and stones that were perforated and worn as ornaments.

Some Sarawak tribes believe that the longer a bead lasts, the more powerful it becomes and the bearer can draw strength from the bead. However, to do so, the bearer must have a strong soul.

Source: Sarawak Tourism Board

There are over 30 tribes in Sarawak and each tribe has its own way of adorning themselves with beads. Some of them use them as necklaces, others as beaded head caps or beaded skirts, others as bracelets or even rings. Beads would also be used as decorations during festivals or other big gatherings.

The baby carriers used by Orang Ulu women to carry their infants are adorned with beadwork and finishes made out of wild boar or leopard teeth. Apart from indicating status, the tingling of the Hawk’s bells and large beads attached to the upper rim of the carrier would soothe the toddler on long journeys through the rain forest.

Many of the antique beads of Borneo are hard to find now. There are a number of reasons for this. Historically, the beads were sometimes buried with their owners as part of their grave clothes, or as “grave gifts”, for the deceased to use in their long journey to the underworld.

As mentioned, beads were also used as currency, often traded with visiting sailors or lost in the sometimes devastating longhouse fires that could rip through 100 doors in less than an hour.

As beads were increasingly hard to come by and time became a precious commodity, modern day beads are mostly imported from Indonesia and China, according to Heidi Munan, Sarawak Museum’s curator of beads. However they are still influenced by the original beads of Borneo.

So while these new beads are still traded, they are no longer the currency of trade. And despite being mass produced, they are increasingly expensive yet have little of the character of the original beads. At the same time, the number of communities still making the beads of Borneo in the traditional manner is slowly diminishing.

Preserving the traditionality of beadmaking

However, the Lun Bawang community in Long Tuma village, Lawas, northern Sarawak continues to make ceramic beads the way they’ve always been made. Partly to generate income for the community but also because they want to keep the tradition alive and let everyone have the opportunity to wear the beads during traditional festivities.

The process begins with a group of five women wading almost nonchalantly into the crocodile infested waters of Pa’ Lawas river to find and dig up the smooth fine clay, which they call “tanah salit”.

The clay is taken to the village by hand, pounded and kneaded to the right consistency and shaped into tiny beads, roughly the size of a pea. The beads are then sun-dried, and strung up on wire loops and fired in a backyard bonfire.

Patricia Busak, daughter of Litad Muluk, who manages the ceramic beads centre, was interviewed by the Star newspaper some time ago and talked through the process, “It takes at least three pairs of hands to make just one bead: one to gather and process the river clay before shaping it into beads; another to paint the underglaze pattern; and a third to paint the glaze and arrange the beads in an electric kiln at the community-owned workshop in the village.”

She went on to say, “It’s very specialised; for instance, only three women in our group are skilled at rolling the beads. I can’t roll, but I’m good at painting the pattern.”

The Long Tuma women are the only beadmakers in Sarawak. Even though their business is thriving, the most important thing for the Lun Bawang community, is the opportunity to preserve their heritage.

“The kind of beads we have, how we string and wear them, give us our sense of identity as a Lun Bawang,” concludes Patricia in the interview.

Beads of Borneo - Painting a bead

Source: Borneo Talk, “The Glistening Beads Of Kampung Long Tuma”

Because beads have been used for so long and came from various parts of the world, the types of beads found in Sarawak vary. Here are a few examples of the types of beads you should look out for during your time in Sarawak and especially if you go to a festival.

Lukut Sekala

The Lukut Sekala beads are worn almost exclusively by members of the Kayan tribe. These beads serve as a symbol of longevity to the community. This is because the beads last for so long that they have become heirlooms, passed down through multiple generations.

Source: @taytayxanadu on Carousell

There are also the Lukut Bela Laba, which are considered male or female depending on whether the shape of the bead was long or flat. The beads are considered extremely valuable. These beads are often of great value to the Kayan.

According to legend, a trader who wanted to travel by river to the interior of Sarawak bought a second-hand outboard engine with just one Lukut Sekala bead.

Beads of Borneo - bead designs

Source: Rustic Borneo Travel, “Borneo Beads – Beautiful Status Symbols”

Ba’o Rawir

The Ba’o Rawir, or the drinking straw beads are created by Kelabit ladies. The Kelabit tribe originates from the Bario Highlands located in the northernmost part of Sarawak. The Kelabit people have a close association with the Lun Bawang tribe as they are geographically close to one another.

The Ba’o Rawir beads are used to create intricate designs on the Peta, a hat worn by Kelabit ladies. It is a status symbol which had the equivalent value of one buffalo in the old days when owning a buffalo was considered a sign of wealth. Today, an antique Peta hat made out of Ba’o Rawir can fetch up to RM 30,000 (US$ 7,150).

Beads of Borneo - Kelabit woman head gear

Source: Kelabit Wiki, “Peta”

Experience bead making yourself

Located in the north of Sarawak, the Long Tuma village is close to the Brunei border. The Ceramic Bead Centre holds workshops where you can learn how to make the beads and create your own piece. The Beads centre is currently managed by Litad Muluk and her daughter Patricia who is quoted above.

These women work the fields during the day and use the bead centre as an extra income stream while keeping the tradition alive. You can even see how this group of dedicated women put together beautiful pieces of jewellery.

And if you like what you see, you can support their efforts by purchasing beads from the souvenir shop.

Here is where it’s located:
Pusat Kraftangan Manik Seramik
Kampung Long Tuma, 98850 Lawas, Sarawak
Tel: +6013 565 6951

If you’re interested to learn more about the beading culture of Borneo, Heidi Munan’s book on Bornean beads is a highly recommended read. In it, she explains the historic significance of beads and how they transcend its mere aesthetic appeal.

You can also order beads online and support the Lawas bead community at the same time. These 3 online stores offer authentic products sourced from Sarawak:

  1. Gerai OA
  2. Gaya Borneo
  3. Bonita and the Beads
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Categories
Malaysia Travel Guide

MICHAEL VEERAPEN: ARTISTE, MENTOR, STUDENT

MICHAEL VEERAPEN: ARTISTE, MENTOR, STUDENT

KUCHING, Friday – Michael Veerapen, an acclaimed Malaysian Jazz musician, will be performing with the Michael Simon’s Asian Connection at the Borneo Jazz Festival on May 12 to 13, at ParkCity Everly in Miri.

Veerapen is well-known in the Malaysian Jazz scene since his time in funk-fusion band Asia Beat with Lewis Pragasam and has established his place as a Jazz pianist, producer, record studio head and mentor, now with a new title to his name: Student.

Despite his 60 years of age and incredible achievements in the Malaysian Jazz arena, Veerapen intends to pursue his master’s degree in Music at Universiti Sains Malaysia with a research paper focusing on local Jazz composers such as Alfonso Soliano, Tan Sri P. Ramlee and Jimmy Boyle.

Veerapen will also be leading one of the Borneo Jazz Festival’s Outreach Programmes, where the Festival performers provide tutorials and talks with young aspiring musicians. His slot entitled “I Want To Break Free! The art of improvising at the keyboards” takes place on Saturday, May 13 at 9.30 am to 11.00 am.

“On the one hand, there is a group that lacks basic knowledge such as reading notes. On the other is a group with a lot of knowledge but little understanding of what’s happening on the ground,” Veerapan said during an interview with The Star Newspaper earlier this year.

Veerapen’s message of lifelong learning is inspirational in its own right, made more so by his goal in bridging the gap between passionate self-taught musicians and musical scholars, starting with himself.

Bands from Japan, South Africa, Italy, USA, Netherlands, Canada, Taiwan and countries from around the world will be performing at the Festival.

The Festival will be expanding its musical outreach programme, where aspiring musicians can learn the basics of Jazz Keyboard from professional musicians, by introducing additional classes for percussions.

The Festival includes night performances with sitting and dancing areas and a wide lawn for night picnics surrounded by arts, crafts and food stalls.

Pre-sale festival tickets are available now and more information can be found at www.jazzborneo.com.

Borneo Jazz is organised by Sarawak Tourism, endorsed by Tourism Malaysia and is jointly supported by the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Sarawak and partnering with Malaysia Airlines as the presenting sponsor.       

MICHAEL SIMON - PubPhoto - Michael Veerapen

Issued by:

Communications Unit
SARAWAK TOURISM
T: +6 082-423600  F: +6 082-416700
E: [email protected]

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Categories
Travel to Melaka

Melaka History

Overview
a-famosa

It was in the fourteenth century that the fishing village of Melaka gained the attention a Hindu prince named Parameswara from Sumatra. He was the last ruler of ancient Singapore who was of Malay origin. The ruler decided to make this place a permanent settlement and named it ‘Melaka’ after a tree. A special position is occupied by Melaka Sultanate when it comes to history of Malaysia. The discovery of this new place led to the emergence of new Malayan Empire. Melaka served as the perfect platform on which the Dutch, Portuguese and English played their roles towards shaping the history of this beautiful place. The industrious nature of Parameswara along with chiefs made this place a powerful maritime trading destination attracting traders from different parts. Muslim traders from India and West Asia shifted their attention towards Melaka from other trading places. The strategic location of Melaka made it a popular trading centre with merchants and ships arriving from India, Japan, China, South Africa and Arab.

In the year 1511, Melaka was captured by the Portuguese which soon shifted to the hands on the Dutch in the year 1641. It was in the year, 1795 the British took control of Melaka to prevent French occupancy. However, after treaty of Vienna came into effect, Melaka was again handed over to the Dutch. Following the year 1826, British East India Company together with Penang and Singapore started to govern the place. The place was ruled by the Dutch for more than a century which is prominent from the fine buildings that exist still today. The red Christ Church which is a prominent feature of Melaka city was built with pink bricks that were imported from Holland. Local red lacerite was then used to give the structure that red appearance. The European presence is constantly reminded by some of the famous structures like the St. Paul’s Church and A Famosa.


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Categories
Tourism Malaysia

Protection for travellers

As a universe grows smaller and transport some-more affordable, a value of transport word has turn priceless.

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Do we unequivocally need transport insurance?

JUST as we wouldn’t go anywhere though an powerful or some additional cash, “just in case�, we shouldn’t go on any trip, either for work or leisure, though a transport word process since it’s not only about financial payment though also about assent of mind.

Some word skeleton can cover medical losses of adult to RM10mil, though some-more than that, it provides medical recommendation and assistance on call, and interpretation services, so that we can get a caring we need, wherever we might be, either it’s a highway collision in China or descending off a precipice in Greece, as some business have experienced, that compulsory evident depletion for puncture medical diagnosis and choice transport arrangements to lapse home.

Travel is a difficult tangle of companion schedules and involves many logistical challenges, hence even a tiny hiccup can have impossibly untimely consequences.

For example, one check can means we to skip a joining flight, journey ship or sold-out Broadway performance. Even mislaid luggage can be a vital hassle, generally if you’re travelling to attend a marriage or any other eventuality requiring a grave wear we had delicately packed, or if you’re travelling on business, with critical apparatus or materials to share with clients or shareholders.

? Source: Travel Guard Asia Pacific Pte Ltd (Malaysian bend office), is AIG Malaysia Insurance Berhad’s business partner that provides travel, medical and claims use assistance. For some-more information on transport health insurance, record on to www.aig.my or www.travelguard.com/. Claims cases mentioned are tangible events.

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Categories
Tourism Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur Tower International Jump Malaysia 2011

October 21, 2011 during 12:00 pm

BASE (Building, Antenna, Span, Earth) jumpers all around a universe were given another eventuality recently to come together and do a one thing that they adore many – jumping off dizzying heights with usually a parachute to check their tumble as sobriety takes over. This prestigious eventuality organized by a Kuala Lumpur Tower took place from a 28th Sep compartment 2nd Oct 2011.

All jumpers posing for a organisation print during a opening rite on 28th Sep 2011

This time, a building became a ‘leaping point’ as 93 jumpers from all over a universe including Malaysia participated in this sparkling event. Considering a high risk concerned in this impassioned sport, it is not odd for many to assume that women are not into impassioned sports. It was therefore startling to hear that out of a 93 people who participated, 5 were women jumpers. The participants who assimilated this eventuality came from countries like Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Switzerland, Finland, United States, India, Malaysia, Canada, Japan, Oslo, Chile, United Kingdom, Germany, Netherlands, France and Poland. The 5 women participants were from India, a United States, Hungary, Germany and South Africa. The eventuality was also done open to members of a open who were penetrating to come and watch a jumpers in action. Tickets were sole during a premier rate of RM 100.00 to RM 150.00 for day jumps and RM 150.00 to RM 200.00 for Night Jumps, that took place on 30th Sep and 1st Oct 2011.

One of a jumpers on his approach to a alighting area

It is extraordinary to see these jumpers leaping off a height during a heights of 300 metres!

Some jumpers rehearse a approach to burst off a building before indeed jumping off with their friends

The shutting rite for a Kuala Lumpur Tower International Jump Malaysia 2011, that took place on 2nd Oct 2011, coincided with a tower’s 15th years anniversary, hence it was a double jubilee for both a jumpers and a tower’s management. The building was strictly launched by Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad on 1st Oct 1996, who was a stream Prime Minister of Malaysia during that time. The eventuality was hold during a Megaview Banquet Hall during Menara Kuala Lumpur. It was attended by YB Datuk M. Saravanan, Deputy Minister Federal Territories and Urban Wellbeing, Yg Bhg Tan Sri Dato’ Ir. Muhammad Radzi Mansor, Chairman of Menara Kuala Lumpur and Pn. Zuraidah Mohd Said, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Menara Kuala Lumpur.

YB Datuk M. Saravanan, Deputy Minister Federal Territories and Urban Wellbeing presenting a Certificate of Participation to Mr Gary Cunningham

The shutting eventuality also valid to be a noted day for 21 youths who common a same birthday as Menara Kuala Lumpur. Their participation done a rite even some-more merrier as these youths assimilated in during a cake-cutting ceremony. A present was also presented to all a birthday boys and girls, many to their delight. It really was a noted birthday for them. After a informative performances, a jumpers were all invited to a theatre to accept their certificates from Kuala Lumpur Tower. Pn. Zuraidah also announced a dates for subsequent year’s Kuala Lumpur Tower International Jump Malaysia, that will be holding place from a 26th compartment 30th Sep 2012. This is truly a good eventuality for many jumpers to mangle their possess annals as subsequent year they will have 5 whole days to burst to their hearts’ delight!

The cake slicing rite to applaud Menara Kuala Lumpur’s anniversary together with a birthday of Menara Kuala Lumpur Youths

There were also 5 special prizes prepared by Menara Kuala Lumpur together with one of a categorical sponsors, World of Watches II for 5 of a jumpers. The winners any perceived a watch from World of Watches II value RM5, 000 each. The categories were:-

The Overall Jump
Most Jumps of a Day
Most Creative Jump
WWII Jumper (International Ambassador), and
WWII Jumper (Local Ambassador).

The winners were:

The Overall Jump – Jean-Phillipe Teffaud
Most Jumps for a Day – Adam Gardner
Most Creative Jump – Rob Heron from Canada
WWII Jumper (International Ambassador) – Brandon J Chance AND
WWII Jumper (Local Ambassador) – Hizam Sahibudeen

Winner of Most Creative Jumper, Mr Rob Heron from Canada

Winner of Most Jumps of a Day Category, Mr Adam Gardner

Winner of Overall Jumps Category, Mr Jean-Phillipe Teffaud

Winner of WWII Jumper Local Ambassador, Mr Hizam Sahibudeen

Winner of WWII Jumper International Ambassador, Mr Brandon J Chance

As a shutting rite came to an end, many of a jumpers took a eventuality to association around with any other. Some even assimilated in a informative dancers’ performance. All in all, a KL Tower International Jump Malaysia 2011 had a good start and finished with a good bang.

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