August 15, 2013

An Aidilfitri of Discovery of Cultural Symbology and Practices

By Aldric

Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri to you! In the spirit of the festivities, I attended a number of open houses in Kuching, Sarawak. The last house I visited, IMHO, was the most thrilling. My friend brought me to visit his former colleague. Here, I learnt a lot of new knowledge pertaining to the Malay culture. It was shared so enthusiastically that all three of us who visited became excited!

We talked a lot about cultural preservation and heritage in Kuching. Topics included:

  • Original meaning behind the five buttons on a baju melayu;
  • How to tie the samping with four different variations;
  • The meaning behind how one wears the Baju Melayu with Samping (my Malay friends kept referring it as sabok. From here on, I will use “sabok as well”) and Tengkolok
  • The origins of the Malays in Lower Sarawak and Upper Sarawak
  • The uniqueness of inter-cultural harmony


In my humble opinion, Sarawak’s diverse heritages are rich in symbols, functions and meaning. We lack our own written sources of history, so I suspect our forefathers enshrine it in how we live. It is there in our art: paintings, original fashion, customs, food etc. Our customs are not an insignificant spec in human history, but a testament of the unrecognised and un[re]searched accomplishments of our many communities.

Do not get me wrong: I am not an enemy of progress. Let us go forth into the future as  interdependent communities under the wings of the Hornbill. Yet, when we do go forth, let us not loose the meanings and cultural heritage we have. Our cultures are deeper than the “popular” version. Cherish them!