Location : Murut Cultural Centre, Kampung Pulong, Tenom District, Interior Division, Sabah, Malaysia.
About 10km from Tenom visible from the main road, lies this magnificent wooden structure housing all the arts & crafts of the Muruts. We paid a mere RM5 each for the entrance and on hand to welcome us were 6 young looking Muruts all dressed in their traditional attires.
Not much was spoken and nobody offered a guided tour so we just returned our smiles and moved on to feast our eyes not only the artifacts on display but the architecture of the building. There were contemporary arts displayed alongside the expected traditional ones. It was quite interesting to find the similarity in terms of motif design with the Kenyahs and Kayans although having less variety of colours. Despite the fact that there was no air conditioning, the place was very comfortably cool and airy. The materials and write ups were unquestionably good and informative but some of the English translations were a little awkward.
Honestly, the best part about this place was still the ‘shell’ which was 100% rock solid belian or ulin as known in Kalimantan, the ironwood of Borneo with the unmistakable reddish brown tone. From the columns, floorings, beams, balustrades, rafters and and all the way up to the roof shingles every inch was pure belian. Judging by the sizes of the columns they could easily be around 200 years old each…..a big sacrifice & love from Mother Earth.
The only other place we know in Borneo that comes close to having as much belian as this is the Sendawar Cultural Park near to Melak in East Kalimantan.
Belian monuments such as this are hard to come by these days as belian is getting rare or too expensive. Many humongous longhouses (100+ doors) made from belian have gone up in smoke either in Kalimantan or Sarawak largely due to human error in the kitchen. As a preventive measure, the management of Murut Cultural Centre should pay special attention to the staff quarters housed inside the main building which is not the wisest thing to do. Their cooking area and electrical gadgets should be regularly monitored for SIRIM compliance. It would be very very unfortunate should leaky gas stove or inferior electrical products lead to a fire. Better be safe than sorry. Mother Earth would be very upset for the sacrifice she made to make this Centre a jaw dropping marvel. Next……..Tambunan