Sarawak Cultural Village
Today I was lucky enough to visit the Sarawak Cultural Village (SCV)as part of the International Kodaly Symposium 2019 in Kuching, Malaysia.
SCV is a living museum made up of various longhouses surrounding a lake in Borneo where the various ethnic groups of the region are represented and where visitors can learn a little more about their culture and lifestyle.
There are a variety of traditional practices being maintained (such as these delicious Penyaram - cakes made of flour and nipa palm sugar - which can be purchased by visitors.
One of the features of the SCV is the spectacle of a cultural show featuring music from various local instruments and a variety of dances of the region, including the Orang Ulu which depicts a hunter stalking his prey and shows off the skills of the dancer, as at one point they popped a balloon on the other side of the stage with a blow-dart!
In addition to viewing the village, IKS participants also rotated around a series of workshops featuring songs and dances from a number of South-East Asian cultures situated at each of the longhouses.
Some highlights for me included learning a courtship dance from the Borneo region as well as learning a number of Te Reo Maori songs - including a few with Poi! Poi were traditionally made from flax, but our industrious presenter had fashioned a class set out of wool and plastic bags!
We also learned a Filipino children's song similar to "double double this this" with the words "pilli pilli ping ping, pilli pilli pong pong"
Over lunch, IKS delegates participated in a forum on folk music collection and some of the research and endeavours that are being undertaken by different cultural groups around the world.
I was once again reminded of the importance of preserving culture through song and dance.
Listening to NZ presenter Megan Flint speak really brought this point home to me. She talked about the period in New Zealand's history where, due to attempts to assimilate into the culture of the British colonists, many children were strongly discouraged from speaking their mother tongue and as a result, many children's folk songs and games may have been lost due to these generations growing up speaking predominantly English.
It was an inspiring (if sweltering!) day and has given me a renewed passion and respect for the importance of folk music.