Rare bead­work on dis­play in ex­hi­bi­tion at Kuching Tex­tile Mu­seum

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KUCHING: Rare Sarawakian bead­work are on dis­play in an ex­hi­bi­tion at Kuching Tex­tile Mu­seum un­til end of this month (Oct 31).

Ac­cord­ing to Sarawak Mu­seum Eth­nol­ogy and Col­lec­tion Man­age­ment cu­ra­tor Dora Jok, the ex­hi­bi­tion themed ‘ Beads: Di­ver­sity in Us­age’ is open to the pub­lic.

The ex­hi­bi­tion aims to show the many uses of beads by var­i­ous com­mu­ni­ties in Sarawak.

“We (the State Mu­seum Depart­ment) have as­sem­bled a few bead­work which are not easy to find for dis­play at this ex­hi­bi­tion. We are glad to be able to bring them for dis­play here to­day,” she said.

Dora pointed out that some of the bead­work seen at the ex­hi­bi­tion are no longer pro­duced by the eth­nic group that cre­ated it in the first place, hence the need to han­dle them with care.

Other rare items on dis­play at the ex­hi­bi­tion in­clude an an­cient Iban gar­ment worn by aris­to­crats known as Baju Ujan, an Orang Ulu hat made from fish scales (con­sid­ered bead­work from the way it was as­sem­bled), and a Lun Bawang neck piece made from clam shells.

The bead ex­hi­bi­tion was launched yes­ter­day by State Mu­seum Depart­ment di­rec­tor Ipoi Datan.

At the sim­ple open­ing cer­e­mony held at Kuching Tex­tile Mu­seum, Ipoi said beads are syn­ony­mous with Sarawakian cul­ture.

“Since its in­cep­tion in 1891, Sarawak Mu­seum has ac­cu­mu­lated a huge col­lec­tion of beaded items from var­i­ous places in Sarawak. Beads play sig­nif­i­cant roles in the lives of al­most all eth­nic groups in Sarawak,” he said.

Ipoi said the State Mu­seum Depart­ment hoped the ex­hi­bi­tion ed­u­cates the pub­lic, both lo­cal and for­eign, on how Sarawakians value and use beads in the past and present.

Held in con­junc­tion with the fifth Bor­neo In­ter­na­tional Beads Con­fer­ence ( BIBCo), the ex­hi­bi­tion on ‘ Beads: Di­ver­sity in Us­age’ is or­gan­ised by the Mu­seum Ex­hi­bi­tion com­mit­tee led by Dora and Zakaria Bo­jeng.

Dora re­vealed that it is the first time the State Mu­seum Depart­ment has or­gan­ised such an ex­hi­bi­tion.

Beads have been around for some 40,000 years, hav­ing been traded in South­east Asia dur­ing pre- Chris­tian times.

Dur­ing the ninth cen­tury, they were brought to Bor­neo by traders in ex­change for lo­cal for­est pro­duce.

Dora (left) and Ipoi (sec­ond left) stand near a rare Iban Baju Ujan on dis­play at the bead ex­hi­bi­tion in Kuching Tex­tile Mu­seum.

Items on dis­play at the bead ex­hi­bi­tion.

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