Melanau burial pole arrives safely at Sarawak Museum

Rudy Pok (left), together with some of the begadeng troupe from Kampung Sungai Ud, Dalat in a photo with the kelidieng Sungai Ud.

By Nancy Nais

KUCHING, Sept 26: A 200-year-old Melanau kelidieng or burial pole originally from Kpg Ud, Dalat has been safely rehomed at the new Sarawak Museum.

Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said the kelidieng was shipped from Dalat to Sarawak Museum in 1962.

However, due to museum renovations, it was temporarily kept in storage at Sekama.

Today, moving the kelidieng from Sekama to the new museum required a specific ritual ceremony, which brought a team led by penghulu Yasa Tanbik from Dalat to assist.


The direct descendant owner of the kelidieng, Pok Mo (seated) with his son Rudy at the Sarawak Museum.

The direct descendant of the original owner of the kelidieng, Pok Mo, 68, who is also a shaman himself performed the ritual ceremony from the start till the end.

Pok was also assisted by his son Rudy, 44, together with the begadeng troupe led by village chief Han Bakeri from Kampung Sungai Ud.

The kelidieng’s journey from Sekama began at 9am, and was wrapped in a white cloth so that it did not appear ‘naked’ before being placed onto a lorry and transported to the new museum complex accompanied by the begadeng.

According to Pok, who spoke in Melanau with Rudy as translator, most of the ritual practices of the indigenous people in Sarawak in the past is normally associated with certain items, especially the wooden structures that were carved with its own significance.

“It is normal to hold religious rituals when it comes to things like this. It is very important because we are moving a very old and sacred item to a ‘new home’ and there are many ‘things’ inside the kelidieng.

“The ritual is to ask for its blessings so that everything will go smoothly during the move,” Pok explained.

Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah (2nd left) taking a closer look at the kelidieng Sungai Ud upon its arrival to Sarawak Museum.

Abdul Karim later told reporters that the particular kelidieng is made of ironwood or belian and has carvings from the top to bottom.

“This burial pole is very old. It was made sometime in the 19th century. It is one of the burial poles considered as ethnic treasures and will be kept in our new museum,” Abdul Karim said, adding that the burial pole is one of the historical symbols of the Melanau community.

As the new museum starts to relocate its artifacts back to the building, Abdul Karim disclosed that more similar rituals from various ethnic communities will be held.

“The museum is in the process of refilling its complex. They have more than 200,000 artifacts and they will put about 1,660 for exhibition,” he disclosed.

Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah (4th right) together with the direct descendant owner of the kelidieng Pok Mo (5th eight), villagers of Kampung Sungai Ud and Sarawak Museum officers in a group photo.

Meanwhile, he added that the new museum, which will be the second-largest in Southeast Asia, will be launched in April 2021.

The museum was initially scheduled to open this December, but due to Covid-19 pandemic, it was postponed to next year.

The kelidieng Sungai Ud will be displayed in the permanent exhibition gallery on level 3. — DayakDaily