Sarawak Museum is said to be one of the best museum in South East Asia (according to my history teacher) and is a must visit place while in Kuching. Sarawak Museum consists of the Old Building, Tun Abdul Razak Hall and the Islamic Museum. All the museum in Kuching seems to be operated at a standard time of 9am-4.30pm every day. Admission is free for all the museums in Kuching (and practically in Sarawak)
This is the Sarawak Museum Old Building which was built in 1891. Built by Charles Brooke, the White Rajah of Sarawak, the building has European architecture of imposing edifice in Victorian period. The building was designed by a French aide of Brooke, who copied the design of the Normandy town hall in France. This rectangular building is 50m long and 13.5m wide. The walls and tower were made of concrete and the roof strong of belian timber.
The building permanently display local native arts and crafts as well as collections of local animals as mainly encouraged by the famous naturalist, Alfred Wallace, who was then collecting specimens in the country.
There are also a few buildings nearby the old building, such as the Art Museum. A comprehensive paintings and art work from local and foreign artists can be found here.
There is also a Natural History Museum nearby the old building but was always close. It was also close during my last visit in 2007. I guess it is no longer operational
Just opposite the Sarawak Museum Old Building, across Tun Abang Haji Openg Road is the Tun Abdul Razak Hall. It made up of 2 floors and was previously used as a State Legislative Assembly Hall from 1973-1975.
The ground floor is an exhibition hall while the first floor display a collection related to pre historic era such as jars, brassware, Chinese furniture, longhouse gallery and others.
Just behind the Tun Abdul Razak Hall is the Islamic Museum . It is divided into 7 galleries and I was amazed with its Islamic artifacts, costumes and history.
Surrounding the Tun Abdul Razak Hall, there are a variety of exhibits at the open garden like this Iban Warboat, which can accommodate up to 25 persons.
There is also this mysterious stone carving. This is a reproduction of the rock carving from the original one which was cut on the face of a huge sand stone boulder standing at the edge of the mangrove swamp at Sungai Jaong, near Santubong in the Sarawak River Delta, 28km from Kuching. Sungai Jaong was a trading centre as early as the 11th century.
Several other carvings were found in the same area are in the same unexplained style-spread eagled figure with weird, perhaps hornbill head dresser. Other similar rock carvings known in Borneo are only found in the Kelabit highlands, 1000m in altitude and 500km away in the far interior.
This structure actually reminds me of Stonehenge at Salisbury. This is a reproduction of a dolmen from one of the megaliths as found in the Kelabit uplands in the Miri division. A dolmen consist of 3 or more large natural stones which support a larger one as roof to protect the bones of a chief buried underneath the structure.
All the megalithic activities were directly associated with funeral rituals of important persons. The Kelabit who have lived on the uplands for centuries continued to practise active megalithics before they became Christians around 1950
This impressive double trunk Salong (burial hut) was originally erected over 100 years ago on the right hand bank of Long Segahan, above Belaga in the Kapit division. This was presented to the Sarawak Museum by the people of Belaga in 1973.
Avun Dian, a great and powerful Kayan chief, had this burial hut made to inter the bones of his beloved young daughter, Lisan. It was reported it took 5 craftsmen and many other helpers 5 years to complete the elaborate carvings on the poles.
Many years later, the bones of Kejaman chief, Taman Tipung Tului, who was a grand nephew of chief Avun Dian, were also interred in this Salong.