Forgotten traditional relics to be featured in TVS documentary series ‘Reviving Relics’

Composite photo of Johnny holding a 'Duku Ilang' (left) and Salomon Gau playing the 'Jatung Utang'. Photo credit: Ensera Creatives

By Shikin Louis

KUCHING, April 19: The Iban’s machete Duku Ilang and the Kenyah’s xylophone Jatung Utang are among six “dying” relics in Sarawak that have been documented and will be aired on TVS soon.

Produced by Ensera Creatives, the ‘Reviving Relics’ documentary series is scheduled to appear on the Malaysian TV screens every Friday night at 7.30pm with the first episode titled ‘Tikar Bergerang’ to air on April 26, followed by ‘Duku Ilang’ (May 3), ‘Sa’Ong’ (May 10), ‘Jatung Utang’ (May 17), ‘Urup Iban Dunging’ (May 24), and ‘Pangiah Tembaga’ (May 31).

Sydney speaks during the media preview on ‘Reviving Relics’ documentary at HAUS Kuching on April 19, 2024.

The director, Sydney Augustine Assom, 31, said the idea for the documentary was proposed by his close friend named Nurul FA Reed who had conducted initial research on these relics, which have almost become lost to the flow of time.

From there, they pitched the story idea under TVS’ Pitch-It campaign and successfully obtained funds for the film.

“We came up with a documentary that is unlike the normal format, where you (interview) multiple people within a single episode. Instead, we attempted a more personal approach from the perspective of one person – the master of the craft.

“Take ‘Duku Ilang’ episode for example, the craftsperson Johnny Barangan shared with us that many people have approached him with the promise to offer help but in the end, they just want to take photos and post them on the Internet.

“That is why we don’t see these relics anymore today partly because people don’t take them seriously. Therefore, I wanted to give them (master craftsperson) full control over the story that they wish to share to the public,” he told the media during a media preview of the ‘Reviving Relics’ documentary at HAUS Kuching here today.

The documentary not only sheds light on forgotten cultural treasures and their untold stories but also encourages preservation efforts.

Ashweein (left) and Sydney photographed during the media preview on ‘Reviving Relics’ documentary at HAUS Kuching on April 19, 2024.

Meanwhile, ‘Reviving Relics’ producer Ashweein Narayanan cited the extinction of the tradition of headhunting in Sarawak as part of the various factors that led to the erosion of cultural treasures like ‘Duku Ilang’.

“Therefore, through our documentary, offering fresh perspectives and being easily digestible by the younger generation, we hope to combat cultural erosion by raising awareness,” he emphasised. — DayakDaily