Running from 15 November 2019 to 15 November 2021, this research documented the technological aspect of parang-making practices among the Bidayuh indigenous of Sarawak, focusing on how the tools were made, the raw materials and their sources, their forms and motifs, and their uses. The research involved three field sites: Nyegol village in the Upper Bengoh, Teleg Semban in the Bengoh resettlement, and Min Lee workshop in the Serian town. The fieldwork also took place at the Sarawak Museum in Kuching, documenting the physical collections of various indigenous blades to bridge the research gap. The information collected was then used to inform the interview questions for the parang makers. In addition, the documentation also involved a focus group interview with the Kejaman of Long Segaham, documenting the historical account of the two parang ilang in the Sarawak Museum collection. The second event is the Bungan ritual for the burial pole of the Punan Ba, involving the community before relocating the artefact to the new Sarawak state museum. The latter event demonstrates the Punan material culture and the use of parang ilang in a specific cultural context.
The making of ‘badek’ machete in Serian (one of the project’s video documentaries).
The project repository contains all the documentation produced by the project. The dataset includes:
Edited project data, including more than 10 hours of video, 80 photographs, more than 80 pages of text, 13 video annotations, three short video documentaries and 4 maps. Photographs and video recordings were taken using a Sony Alpha a7 iii and Sony a5100; audio recordings were made on Zoom H1n Handy recorder and a Samsung handphone (due to COVID restrictions); drone images and videos were taken using Dji Mavic Mini. Other accessories included Modmic 4, headphones, SD cards, camera batteries, Shure VP83 Condenser Shootgun Microphone, Shure A83-Fur Microphone Windjammer for VP83 & VP83F, LED lights, Tripod, and MacBook Pro (for the editing). Software used to prepare the assets for the digital repository included Microsoft Word, Adobe Acrobat, ELAN (for the video annotation and translation), Adobe Premiere Pro (for audio and video editing) and Durham University’s One Drive (for asset storage and backup).
Achievements of the project include:
- Documentation of parang-making practises in Sarawak is made freely publicly available via this digital repository which will benefit the community, the Sarawak Museum, and future researchers.
- Improved record of the physical collections of the indigenous blades in the Sarawak Museum for the institutional digital repository.
- Documented the cultural practice of Bungan ritual relating to the Sarawak Museum artefact, the Punan Ba burial pole (klirieng), and the use of blade (parang ilang) in a specific cultural event, in which the custom is now declining.
- Expanded knowledge, the technical skill and filming experience for the project investigator, research assistant and the interpreters.
A curated selection of assets from the collection has been provided below as a small sample of the type of assets that can be found in the repository, as well as their content, format, and the metadata provided. The documentation generated by the project has been published under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and can be consulted and downloaded freely including a guide to the dataset which explains the different formats, sizes, and the ID attribution process of the assets, and a metadata spreadsheet with all the metadata information which was collated following the Material Culture Ethnography Metadata Schema (MCEMS).
Curated collection of assets
MIA mixes commercial wood glues with sawdust to tighten the hilt and for durability purposes. Participants: Mohd. Izril Izaidi Abdullah, Nurul Faresya binti Ahmad Fareed, 06 December 2019.
NAJ cuts and whittles the teak woodblock for making the hilt on his car porch. He uses a machete and a multi-purpose knife. The work process takes place at home since women are not allowed in the workshop. Participants: Ngapun anak Jun, Maggelina anak Bungi, 15 September 2020.
Parang ilang Orang Ulu – Sarawak Museum. Participant: Peter anak Siman, 22 January 2020.
Drying machetes – During the rainy season, the drying process takes longer than in the normal season. MIA uses a fan to fasten the drying process. Participant: Mohd. Izril Izaidi Abdullah, 05 January 2020.
Traditional music of bamboo zithers – Bidayuh, Nyegol. Participants: Philiptatum anak Simo, Lining anak Ngarong, Nyusai anak Sekam, 13 February 2020.
Fieldnotes and Interview texts – Sarawak Museum. Tracy Peter Samat, 30 November 2021.
Bungan ritual – Punan Ba. Ethnology storeroom, Sarawak Museum, 15 October 2020.