Saturday, February 26, 2011

KELABIT MAN 'Pedera Ulun'


                        Life of Many Sadness

Material;     Coil-built Ball Clay Electric High-Fired
                                  Clay is from Borneo
                   Ball clays are relatively scarce deposits due to the combination of geological factors needed for their formation and preservation.

Size;     Life Size

Finish;     Wax Dye and 24K Pearl Gold

Edition;     One Off ... No Copies Made
                     {Original Artists proof }

Year;     2008

For Sale

This work is sold as the original, Artists Proof.
There are no copies made.
A Certificate of Proof will be provided and signed by the Artist.
Copyright remains with the Artist.
If you are interested in purchasing this work for your collection
please contact me at ....

The Thinking Behind The Work ...


This sculpture is not of a living person but of my observations of the Kelabit people who are an indigenous people of the Sarawak highlands in Borneo and where I have travelled to observe and make sculptures of these proud people who have a minority in the neighbouring state of Brunei. The elevation is slightly over 1,200 meters and there are few roads and the area is largely inaccessible by river because of rapids, but the situation is improving.

With a population of approximately 5,000 people, the Kelabit comprise one of the smallest ethnic groups in Sarawak. Many have migrated to urban areas over the last 20 years or so and it is estimated that only 1,800 still live in their remote homeland. They moved out mostly to get further education and to get jobs that suit their qualifications in towns and cities like Miri, Kuching, Sibu, Bintulu, Kuala Lumpur and other places overseas. Many are involved in a range of professional occupations today. 

Their tightly knit communities live in inherited longhouses and practice a generations old form of agriculture. They are cultivators of wet paddy, hill rice, maize, tapioca, pineapple, pumpkin, cucumber, beans and fruit. Hunting and fishing is also practiced. Domesticated buffalo are valued highly, seven of which are traditionally required for the dowry for an upper class bride. In times past the Kelabit had to rely on bird and bird augury and dreams as guidance before beginning an important journey or starting the agriculture cycle. Certain rituals and practices were observed before commencing any undertakings. Sometimes these rituals required them to abandon a field that had been cleared for farming or leave their ripened rice to rot. 

Over a century ago, the Kelabit were involved in head hunting raids, not so much for ritual purposes but as a means to prove one’s courage and bravery, and to get even with an enemy. Thus, a person who succeeded in head hunting exploits was hailed as a hero and looked upon as a role model for others. Stories of successful exploits are narrated in various forms of oral story and music.. During the Second World War the Kelabit, like other natives of Borneo, were co-opted by the Allies into fighting the Japanese and played an essential role in the liberation of Borneo. After the War this remote ethnic group received visits from Christian missionaries. The Kelabit are now predominantly Christian. Prior to conversion they were Pagan and very close to nature and it's ways. They had a custom of erecting megaliths in honour of notable individuals such as a headman or great warriors and spirits of the rain-forest

From my talking and staying with these people I found them to be very open and friendly and I am proud of meeting the first Kelabit man to become a school teacher who went back to the highlands to teach the next generation. He still dresses in the traditional ways of the Kelabit, in fact his appearance is not to far off my sculpture.


MUIMUI said...

Artpiece is very close to the likeness of the tribal man whose origin is well curated here.
No one does this type of sculpture here. Unique Daf.


daf said...

Thank you for your comment Victoria. My intention is to follow this work with more
of the same kind amd record the tible people of Borneo in 3d.

Anonymous said...

As a Bidayuh, one of the indigenous people in Borneo,i feel its good to have articles & artworks on the various cultures of Sarawak.The facial expression is most life-like and can really feel the emotions it potrays.

Would like to see your work on the Bidayuh people & culture sometime.


daf said...

Thank you JJ for your comment. I am now researching the Bidayuh people and I too would like to see what sculpture I will come out with.

Jlau said...

Sarawak is rich in ethnicity - 30 over tribes and the Kelabit Man is from the Orang Ulu community.This is just a brilliant work of the Sculptor and his facial expression is so real like someone I have met in the longhouse-so close.Its an authentic work

daf said...

Thank you for this comment .. the sculpture becomes more 'real' living with it.

BenNG said...

A highly respected Kelabit Man in the Highlands in Borneo who seems to share the toils and sweat of the farm after a hard day's work perhaps for the uncertainties of a good harvest for Padi.

daf said...

BenNG you have just looked into the possible day-in-a-life of a Kelabit man.

Maltilder said...

I belong to the Iban community with my roots in Sungai Lukut,Kanowit.The Dayaks,the tribal population of Sarawak,Malaysia Borneo comprises mainly the Orang Ulus,Bidayuhs and Ibans.The Kelabit Man should be the pride of the Artist who did such true likeness It would be nice to see that it is archived as a historical artifact for the younger generations........ Well done Mr Daf.

daf said...

Thank you Maltilder for this comment and I would hope the right people take note of your suggestion otherwise if I sell this work it could very well leave the country.

Unknown said...

Nice work Daf. said...

Well done Daf.Very representative of a Kelabit man.I was trying to find in the background writeups about someting that the Kelabit men and women were so passionate about, ie. their beads.Besides that adornment in the ears, Venetian beads of value is a treasured item.If I have this art piece I would let it wear one of my Kelabit value necklace. In the past this gives them the status symbol.This piece shows the Reality of living in the interior, tough, experienced and signs of a life living in a great clean environment among the clouds.

daf said...

Chris thank you for pointing this out to me in regarding the beads in their importance to the kelabit people. I will research this and will add to my post.