Donnerstag, 4. Oktober 2007

Cultural Village (English)

The museum’s management truly chose an appropriate slogan: The living museum.

Cultural Village is an open-air museum near Damai beach at the coast, which exhibits the traditional houses of the most important local ethnic groups. Some representatives of the respective ethnic group live in these houses and perform dances and other traditional rituals for us and other visitors. They wore different costumes and used various kinds of music instruments. One of these instruments was a nicely decorated, tiny guitar.

All the long houses were very interesting and their inhabitants delivered insight about the tribes’ every-day life. The houses and the exhibits are in good conditions and the corresponding signs are informative. It is irritating that a long house is called long as you rarely find these buildings in an oblong shape. I would guess that this name is derived from the very long central corridor, where the inhabitants meet for community works and meetings. There are rooms for each family on the left and on the right of this particular corridor. The long houses are usually elevated to prevent animals from eating food and things like that.

The people in the houses also produce handicrafts and food, such as traditional cookies. We could witness the production procedure from the rough material to the final product.

In one of the houses we were also allowed to try our hands at the blowpipe. It seems as if you need to have huge lungs and a lot of power for it, but actually it’s very easy and aims with high accuracy. Of course the native hit the bull’s eye: a coca-cola can.

In the afternoon we had to rush from a longhouse to the central theatre to marvel at the general dance performances. One group after another showed their skills. Finally the dancers encouraged the audience to join in singing the famous Rasa Sayang-song.

I would have loved to stay longer in this marvelous museum. I would also love to spend a week in a remote longhouse far away from any modern civilization. This is difficult to day as most natives have developed and adapted a modern life-style. It’s a big business in Sarawak to organize trips for tourists to longhouses.

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