Mural Designs: A Dying Culture

Remember my post on my study trip to Belaga last year?
Well, click here – just to re-fresh your memory. 🙂

In my studies, mural designs is one of thing covered under the tangible and intangible culture in Borneo. In the olden days, only the aristocrat or the ‘maren’ (as what it is known in Kayan) or ‘keta’u’ (as what it is known in Kenyah) will have these mural designs in their household as it carries status in the society. The Kayan and the Kenyah are a stratified community and it is still practiced until today by some families (who are still upholding to their ancestors practice).

It is the men who does the carving of the mural designs and the knowledge are passed down from a generation to the next generation. However, as the communities going through modernization, the once proudly culture is slowly dying. Not many skillful men out there anymore. Even if there is, the work is/will not as detail as before. or the skillful artist is too old to carve. Young men nowadays prefer to venture into something that is outside of their culture. Sad but that’s the reality.

The mural designs is not just a design but it carries stories in it. Each swirls has got its own meaning which eventually lead to a familiar figure such as tree, human, dog, dragon and hornbill. It is a piece of art from the artist expression.

To the Orang Ulu community out there, how many of you know the art of mural designs? How many of you take the effort to preserve the culture?

ps-these mural designs pictures are taken during my study trip to Uma Bakah, Belaga.


  1. Veron

    27 January, 2011 at 11:11 pm

    They really still have alot of this here…

    1. ladybirdmollyz

      28 January, 2011 at 7:39 am

      yes and that amazed me coz the last kalung design i saw thru my entire life was at ex Penghulu Lanyau’s verandah during my study at Long San. unfortunately, the longhouse burnt down with the kalung. its just vanish like that. 🙁

      i felt my trip was worth it. for the record, a young man named Samson (Kenyah Kalimantan) is the artist of this mural designs. the longhouse paid him for this. now, Samson is residing at Bario as he’s married to a Kelabit woman. Samson is also the artist of Marudi Civic Centre mural designs. 🙂

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