Saturday, October 10, 2015

Sabah's indigenous bead crafts regaining lost glory

KOTA KINABALU: Indigenous beadwork in Sabah has evolved from its traditional means and revived to become a modern day economic generator for locals.

Sabah Museum Department director Joanna Kitingan said beads were used as traded goods, cultural identity markers, sogit (traditional ritual payment) and were very much part of the indigenous spiritual beliefs.

However, the artifact is not only sold as tourism products but also integrated into fashion for the modern day people, she said when speaking at the 2015 Manik Se-Borneo Carnival Seminar and Workshop here yesterday.

“I think beads are still very much relevant. In fact, I am very much into supporting beads. I revived the bead craft making in Tambunan,” said Joanna, who adorned herself with a traditional bead necklace and belt at the event.

“We didn’t have a system of writing; we had oral tradition. So in order for them to express what they saw, they expressed it in beads or through beading in the olden days. One time it was a dying art because it might have been perceived as outdated and not attractive but now through tourism and through the Unduk Ngadau, you can see that it is very much used,” she added.

Joanna reiterated that the revival of beads should be continued in this path and adjustments can be made to keep up with the current times so it will stay relevant in the modern day.

Some 200 participants from Sarawak, Brunei, Kalimantan and Sabah, which included students from higher learning institutions, government institutions as well as members of the public, attended the one-day event here yesterday.

The seminar showcased the bead collection from museums in the Borneo Islands, namely Sabah Museum, West Kalimantan Museum, Brunei Museum and Sarawak Museum, and serves as a platform to introduce the similarities as well as differences of beads in the region.