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Sarawak Cultural Village – Melanau Tall House

The Melanau make up around 5.8% of Sarawak’s population. They mainly live along the coast between the Rejang and Baram Rivers. Some Melanau are pagans, some are Muslims and the rest Christians. Because they live near the sea, the Melanau build tall longhouses as a precaution against pirate attacks.

Sarawak Cultural Village   Melanau Tall House picture kuching escapade  photo
Melanau tall house

Sarawak Cultural Village   Melanau Tall House picture kuching escapade  photo
Exterior view

Sarawak Cultural Village   Melanau Tall House picture kuching escapade  photo
Interior view

Sarawak Cultural Village   Melanau Tall House picture kuching escapade  photo
Sleeping room

Sarawak Cultural Village   Melanau Tall House picture kuching escapade  photo
Kitchen

Sarawak Cultural Village   Melanau Tall House picture kuching escapade  photo
Staircase

Sarawak Cultural Village   Melanau Tall House picture kuching escapade  photo
Verandah

Unlike most of other Borneo people, the Melanau preferred daily food is sago, rather than rice. During my visit to the Melanau tall house, I also went to see sago processing.

Sarawak Cultural Village   Melanau Tall House picture kuching escapade  photo

The sago palm can usually be found growing in the coastal swamps.

Sarawak Cultural Village   Melanau Tall House picture kuching escapade  photo
Sago palm

To process sago, the palm is cut down at the right stage of maturity. The trunks are then stripped and split. The sago pith is rasped into a coarse, wet mash. Next the sago mash is piled on strong mats over shallow troughs. The starch is left to settle in the bottom. When the starch has completely settles out of water, it will be collected for further draining, kneading and drying to get sago flour.

Sarawak Cultural Village   Melanau Tall House picture kuching escapade  photo
Sago trunk

Sarawak Cultural Village   Melanau Tall House picture kuching escapade  photo
Sago starch

The sago flour can be further refined to produce foodstuffs such as biscuits, breads and cakes and pearl sago.

Sarawak Cultural Village   Melanau Tall House picture kuching escapade  photo
Pearl sago

Sarawak Cultural Village   Melanau Tall House picture kuching escapade  photo
Packaged pearl sago for commercial purpose

Sarawak Cultural Village   Melanau Tall House picture kuching escapade  photo
Clay hearths used to bake sago biscuits

To end this entry, I bring you a video clip showing the Menyak Dance, a traditional Melanau dance portraying the process of sago making.

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Sarawak Cultural Village – Melanau Tall House by Life Is Like That, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.5 Malaysia License.

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James Neill Wong

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