Sarawak Cultural Village, showcasing the unique Melanau people or tribe who make up about 6% of Sarawak's population. Originally known as a-likou (People of the river), the current name Melanau was apparently given by one of the Sultans of Brunei in the 19th century. A legend some say of this. Broken into six different groups, there are the Melanau Mukah, Melanau Dalat, Melanau Oya, Melanau Matu-Daro-Rejang, Melanau Ba'ie (Bintulu), Melanau Balingian and Melanau Miri. Originally animist, most of the modern Melanau are now Muslims.
History states that the Melanau tribe were once seafaring people who lived by the coast and due to much pirate attacks, their homes began to get higher and some resulting in over 40 feet high. The Melanau peoples home is also called a Melanau Tall House. At the Sarawak Cultural Village, there is an exact original Melanau tall house on display. This is one of the last few homes of tribes you will see before exiting the village. (Update 2012: This is the last original Melanau tall house in Sarwak)
The Melanau Tall House is one amazing structure. It is built from single hardwood timbers used as stilts and as high as 30 to 40 feet, this skill is no longer used. Currently there are only about 2 or 3 actual Melanau homes like these left in Sarawak where one of them is here at the Sarawak Cultural Village.
Melanau people were once traditional fisherman, sago and padi farmers with some skilled boat builders but the current Melanau are no longer into the old skills. They live a common life like local Malays do in the towns.
I have to apologize as I lost some of the images from inside the Melanau House so you will not be seeing what it is like inside. It is similar to the other longhouses with different crafts and the house is two levels inside. On the left, you see me standing half way the 25 feet wooden stair leading up to the house.
The main stairs going up and down from the main entrance is also very unique. Apparently back in the day, when there were pirates attacking the Melanau, they would hurry everyone up to the tallhouse and then pull up the long timber staircase so no one could then come up. The main structural poles supporting the tallhouse would be greased so the attackers would have problems trying to climb up and thus giving the Melanau people a chance to counter attack the enemies from the top. Creative right?
One of the festivals that the Melanau celebrate is the Pesta Kaul (Kaul Festival, a thanksgiving to appease the spirits of farm, land, sea and forest) which is held around late March and early April. The main highlight of the Pesta Kaul is the Tibau, which is a giant swing about 20 feet high. Here, Melanau youth would dive down to catch a swinging rope in this daunting test of skill and courage.
The Melanau people have a bamboo dance which is rather unique. You may get to see this dance performed by the Melanau people under the tall house during certain times so please check with your guide. They also perform this dance at the main cultural show. Finally, it is hard to miss this amazing tall house as it is the most prominent building in the entire Sarawak Cultural Village. Visit this site to learn more about the Pesta Kaul and Tibau.
You can also read about my other articles on each of the ethnic tribes found around Sarawak namely the Iban Tribe, Penan Tribe, Bidayuh 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
0900 - 1715 daily
They are two Cultural Shows per day which are:
1130 - 1215
1600 - 1645
1130 - 1215
1600 - 1645
Sarawak Cultural Village Address;
Pantai Damai, Santubong,
P.O.Box 2632, 93752 Kuching,
Tel: (6082) 846 411
Fax: (6082) 846 988
If you are planning to visit Kuching or Sarawak, make sure you allocate one day to visit this amazing 'Living Museum' which is only about 45 minutes from town. It is an award winning attraction and has been around since 1989. One of the highlights of Borneo is the Sarawak Cultural Village.