Kelabit’s folklore stories now available in local bookstores

The newly-launched book titled 'Stories from the Kelabit Highlands: Folklore, myths and legends of the Kelabit tribe of Borneo'. Photo credit: Gerawat Gala's Facebook page

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KUCHING, Feb 26: The public can now read the folklore, myths and legends of the Kelabit tribe of Borneo through an English-language book titled ‘Stories from the Kelabit Highlands’.

The book was a collaborative effort between Rurum Kelabit Sarawak (RKS) and Datin Nikki Lugun who took on the task of collating and transcribing long lost stories told by generations of Kelabit folklorists and story keepers.

Published by Wildman Communications Sdn Bhd, the 160-page book will be available at bookstores nationwide.

Part of the proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to the Cultural Unit of RKS.

The book was officially launched by Federal Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Dato Sri Nancy Shukri in a ceremony held at a local hotel in Kuching on Feb 25.

The book was considered an effort to safeguard the culture and heritage of the Kelabit community.

Every tribe and community of Sarawak is rich oral traditions that include folktales, local myths, and legends related to the history of a particular community.

“These oral traditions have been a source of value education as well as entertainment in our traditional rural societies, and they hold the essence of our unique culture and traditions.

“Unless we act today, our invaluable oral traditions are in danger of extinction soon due to the sweeping forces of globalisation and commercial entertainment that have already reached even remote areas of Sarawak,” RKS said in a statement recently.

The statement went on to state that the Kelabit language itself in which these stories were originally told, is one of the most endangered languages and borders on extinction.

Apart from the book, Nikki, who was a former journalist, had previously turned two ancient Kelabit folklore into plays which were performed ‘live’ at the Sarawak Cultural Village.

They were The Legend of Agan Tadun in 1998 and Dayang Bulan – the Moon Princess in 2016.

She was also the co-author of the book ‘A Century of Engineering in Sarawak – from Bamboo to Broadband’, author for ‘Sarawak Sweethearts’, a book on Sarawak’s orangutans and Borneo Spirits and Tuak Tales amongst others.

She was also the project head and editor for ‘Pesta Nukenan – Celebrating the Cultural and Culinary Heritage of the Kelabit Highlands’ which won Best in the World at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards 2016, held in Yantai, China. — DayakDaily