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Sarawak Cultural Village Bidayuh People

Sarawak Cultural Village in Kuching, Sarawak features an entire mix of tribes and this posting talks about the Bidayuh people and lifestyle which is located in this Living Museum. The Bidayuh people are the fourth largest tribe with an estimate of over 8.4% of Sarawak's population or about 180,000 people. The name "Bidayuh" also means 'inhabitants of land' where they are found mostly in the areas of Lundu, Bau, Padawan, Penrissen and Serian district in the state of Sarawak, Malaysia.

Bidayuh Bamboo Bridge

The Bidayuh longhouse is the first home you visit when you enter the Sarawak Cultural Village. A wooden walkway will lead you to all the tribe houses where stopping at the Bidayuh longhouse, you will learn about the culture and lifestyle about these ethnic people. On Approaching the longhouse you will have to cross a authentic Bidayuh bamboo bridge. Well, a choice is given as you can experience walking across this sturdy bamboo bridge or just walk around it.

Rumah Baruk Bidayuh

The Bidayuh people are not known as fierce headhunters as they were more on the protective side. Shielding their families from invading enemies back in the day, they would build a Baruk (Head House) which is similar to a lookout post just outside or in the center of their longhouse community. The Rumah Baruk is a circular head house which is about 3 to 5 meters above ground.

Sarawak Cultural Village - Bidayuh Baruk center

The Bidayuh warriors would sleep inside the Baruk at nights to keep a watch for invading enemies and the Baruk was built in such a way to keep the enemies out where once the enemies were sighted, the 5 foot tall drum would be sounded, families are then rushed inside the Baruk and the shutters and doors of the tower would be closed. It would be quite impossible for the enemies to get into the Baruk giving the Bidayuh warriors a upper hand on attacking the enemies from up above and protecting the families.

Bidayuh girls inside the Baruk

Inside the Baruk, skulls of the enemies are hung high above the main center fireplace where it is said that the shaman would perform rituals here. The Baruk serves as one of the main places for their rituals, festivals and traditional dances which can accommodate over 30 to 40 people at one time.

Multi tiered Bidayuh longhouse verandah

The Bidayuh people are the best bamboo crafters among all the tribes where bamboo is the main tool and almost everything is made from bamboo. The multi tiered Bidayuh Longhouse is usually built on slopes and one of the amazing talents by the Bidayuh is using bamboo to make an incredible water system conduit carrying water supply from a river nearby into the longhouse.

Gongs and erns inside the Bidayuh longhouse

Inside the Bidayuh longhouse, you will see a lot of traditional items like gongs, erns and ceramic jars. Most of them were traded centuries ago when the Chinese traders came the the lands seeking items that could not be found in China. There are also hand weaved baskets, carved wooden masks and an assortment or ethnic Bidayuh weapons.

Bidayuh ladies grinding rice

The Bidayuh people are claimed to be the original Dayak people that have been in Borneo for centuries. They are even claimed to be the first people of the land. Known also as the Land Dayaks as the Iban people are known as Sea Dayaks, most Bidayuh people have converted their religion into Christianity and Muslim from Animism.

Bidayuh man carving a bamboo

At the Bidayuh longhouse, you would be able to see a variety of skills being performed. One of them, a master craftsman will show you the art of bamboo carving. You can even buy some of the finished items as souvenirs and prices are relatively cheap.

A Bidayuh lady weaving a mat

Moving around the Bidayuh longhouse, you will see a number of Bidayuh women demonstrating various skills. One of them being weaving. They would weave from baskets, table mats to even large floor mats. Some of these mats or Tikar as they are locally known fetch high prices in the market.

Bidayuh mat weaving

Inside the Bidayuh longhouse, an elderly lady demonstrates intricate Bidayuh beadwork which is a dying trade. Not many people are skilled in this exquisite delicate skill. They bead head gears to pouches and even their traditional attires. Mostly used during major Bidayuh festivals or wedding ceremonies.

Bidayuh lady beading a hat

One can easily spend a good hour just watching the Bidayuh people with their skilled work and some of them even speak good English. You are free to ask them questions and better if you have a personal guide that speaks their language as they will interpret it much better to you.

Finally, the Bidayuh people are very friendly and hospitable towards everyone. They live simple lives and modern day Bidayuhs have moved on in society and to better pastures. Visiting the Sarawak Cultural Village to witness the lifestyle of the Bidayuh people opens up your imagination to what used to be these peoples life and can be very educational.
You can also read about my other articles on each of the ethnic tribes found around Sarawak namely the Iban Tribe, Penan Tribe, Melanau Tribe and the Orang Ulu People. You can also visit the official website for the Sarawak Cultural Village.

Entrance Fee to the Sarawak Cultural Village
  • RM 60.00 (Adult)
  • RM 30.00 (Child : 6-12 years old)
  • Free for Children aged under 6.
  • Tickets can be purchased at the entrance of Sarawak Cultural Village.
  • You can also get it from the authorised local travel agents around Kuching town and Sarawak.
Sarawak Cultural Village Opening hours are:
0900 - 1715 daily
They are two Cultural Shows per day which are:
1130 - 1215
1600 - 1645

Sarawak Cultural Village Address;

Pantai Damai, Santubong,
P.O.Box 2632, 93752 Kuching,
Sarawak, Malaysia.
Telephone: (6082) 846 411
Fax: (6082) 846 988
Email: enquiry@scv.com.my

If you are planning to visit Kuching or Sarawak, make sure you take the time to visit this amazing 'Living Museum' which is only about 45 minutes from town. The SCV is an award winning attraction and has been around since 1989. One of the top highlights of Borneo is the Sarawak Cultural Village.


My Taste Heaven said...

never been to sarawak before. never knew they have such a unique cultural, all i know was they have wooden houses, that's all.

thanks a million for sharing all those wonderful photos.

Anonymous said...

Interesting fact about the head house. The bamboo bridge looks rather intimidating.

I like the beautiful beadwork...lovely.

Malaysia Asia said...

My Taste Heaven - You should make a trip there, in fact there are a LOT of Malaysians from this side who have never been there. It is quite cheap now and a really nice place to visit. The food there is another story too. Excellent for blogging.

Mei - Thanks, actually there was more facts, just that I was rushing this post and some of it I have forgotten. If you like beadwork, then Sabah and Sarawak is one of the places you MUST visit. Since you are going to Mulu, check out my Mulu postings, the Penan Villages there also have amazing beadwork.