Writer Heidi Munan’s new book tells how S’wak indigenous people made clothes in the past

Heidi Munan (second right) in a group photo with 'Iban warriors' at the launching of 'The Sartorial Heritage of Sarawak' book at Telang Usan Hotel in Kuching on Jan 7, 2023.

By Nur Ashikin Louis

KUCHING, Jan 7: Writer Heidi Munan has launched a new book titled ‘The Sartorial Heritage of Sarawak’ at Telang Usan Hotel here today.

Overall, the book would answer the questions on how indigenous people back in the day made their clothes with materials gleaned from the rainforest and whether they really sewed without needles and cut fabric without scissors.

During the book launch, Heidi even gave a presentation about how the fashion trend have evolved in the early days, from an old photo depicting a woman in mourning was wearing only a single piece of cloth, not sewn, to cover the torso, to several photos showing the people have started to wear sewn clothes such as sarong, baju melayu, baju kurung, and the Iban’s baju burung.

That didn’t end there, as the people back then also included Borneo beads and neck rings in their beauty standards.

“I hope my book would encourage people to look at clothes, not as something that they bought in shopping malls, but to think, why are they in these (clothes)? Why did my friend have something that was quite different from what I was wearing? What are the reasons? How do people express themselves with the clothing that they wear?

“If I can encourage people to think about it while they are reading my book, I would be very happy.

“But the fashion will keep on changing. Ten years from now, some writers would write the next book on the same topic of what happened from 2023 to 2030,” she said during the event.

Heidi Munan giving a presentation on the fashion trend in Sarawak from the early days during the launching of her ‘The Sartorial Heritage of Sarawak’ book at Telang Usan Hotel in Kuching on Jan 7, 2023.

The author traced the development of new styles and fashions as they were adopted and adapted. Ample scope is given to the traditional costumes of Sarawak’s indigenous people, but ‘town dwellers’ are also included in this interesting study — with due respect given to the ‘Shaw Brothers’ films that introduced many new fashions during the 20th century.

For the record, Heidi has spent more than fifty years researching the material culture, folklore and history of Sarawak. She is one of Sarawak’s most successful authors and has published several books on these topics, including Beads of Borneo, Sarawak Historical Landmarks, Food Heritage of Sarawak and Sarawak Folk Tales.

The ‘Sartorial Heritage of Sarawak’ book is available for purchase from Mucow Books Company. Interested buyers can call Philippa Munan on 01116053616 or email mucowbookscompany@gmail.com.

Also available are Beads of Borneo, Sarawak Historical Landmarks, Sarawak Folk Tales and Iban stories. — DayakDaily

Heidi Munan gives a copy of the ‘The Sartorial Heritage of Sarawak’ book to Sarawak Tourism Federation (STF) president Audry Wan Ullok at the Telang Usan Hotel in Kuching on Jan 7, 2023.