Written by Kimberly-Ann De Rozario
Beads hold a significant meaning in the culture of Sarawak’s indigenous people for generations. These masterpieces carry an immeasurable weight of culture and history. Each tribe transforms these beads into immaculate pieces to be worn as an adornment during traditional festivals such as Hari Gawai (Harvest Festivals) and ceremonial rites and rituals such as marriages to now worn in the modern-day during functions and events and also to be gifted as gifts.
The beads are made into traditional pieces such as necklaces, headpieces, accessories and now being incorporated into earrings, bracelets, purses and clothing with each piece carrying a different meaning to each ethnic community in Sarawak from the colors, shapes, motifs carved on the beads to the weaving technique.
Beaded jewellery is often exhibited to show social status and passed down as an heirloom from mother to daughter and the girls from the younger generations are taught this precious beadwork to keep the tradition alive.
If you are a tourist in one of the oldest streets in the city – searching for decorative pieces or beaded jewellery to be brought back as a piece of history from Kuching, you must visit the Main Bazaar located deep in the heart of Kuching. This is where you will find an array of these beautiful eclectic hidden gems.
Here are some of the outlets that offers some of the finest and exquisite beaded jewelry: –
– Kelvin Gallery (32, Jalan Main Bazaar, 93000, Kuching Sarawak)
– Sin Ching Loong (57, Ground Floor, Jalan Main Bazaar, 93000, Kuching Sarawak)
– Thian Seng Goldsmith (48, Jalan Main Bazaar, 93000, Kuching Sarawak)
– Yeo Hong Chuan Trading (46, Jalan Main Bazaar, 93000, Kuching Sarawak)
– Livan Handicraft (45, Jalan Main Bazaar, 93000, Kuching Sarawak)
– Rainforest (49, Jalan Main Bazaar, 93000, Kuching Sarawak)
Although these beaded jewellery are used as decorative items and ornaments in many modern households, tourists who bring these prized possessions home are to appreciate its significance and to be reminded that these ethnic crafts tell a tale of a thousand stories that shape the culture of the indigenous people in Sarawak.