Friday, April 28, 2017

Sabah Culture: Living legacy of Murut embroidery

AT 72, Dainsing Darum, a master embroiderer from Sabah, is a picture of contentment.

“I have a lot to thank for,” she says. “Good health is one of them. Others are my eyesight, which has not deteriorated much despite my age, and my hands which remain steady.”

Dainsing, from Kampung Inarad, Tongod – a district located in the deep interior of Sabah – says that having good eyesight and steady hands have allowed her to remain active in pursuing her passion in embroidery, and in imparting the skills to the younger generation.

But underneath her chirpy nature, one cannot help but sense a hint of despair in her voice.

“Embroidery is something that I truly hold dear,” Dainsing told the participants of her embroidery masterclass at Galeri Petronas  in Kuala Lumpur recently. “It’s my soul; and I shudder to think what if someday this art is lost and forgotten. That’s why I’m here; I’m eager to impart this skill to anyone who wishes to learn.”

Her masterclass which consisted of embroidery, beadwork, and rattan weaving, took place from March 24 to 26 at Galeri Petronas  in Suria KLCC as part of the event line-up for the “MANAH: A Living Legacy” exhibition which ran from February 14 to April 16.

Manah is Galeri Petronas’ first exhibition for 2017. Curated by Associate Professor Dr Baharudin Arus from University Malaysia Sabah’s Faculty of Humanities, Art and Heritage, it features the artistic and creative expressions of Malaysia’s indigenous communities and their strong connection to the rainforest.

Manah, which means “ancient” or “old way” in the Temiar language, featured the unique aesthetics of the country’s indigenous people which remain intact despite the influences of modernity, to reflect their identity and origins which are strongly linked to the ecology of the land they inhabit.

Dainsing, who is from the Murut Tangala tribe, says she did not hesitate for a moment when Galeri Petronas invited her to conduct a masterclass during the exhibition.