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Sabah and Sarawak Beads

(17 February 2001)

 

Click on covers above to enlarge.

Beads play an important part in the lives of peoples of Sabah and Sarawak. Ancient beads are valued as adornment, for the social status and wealth. Beads were handed down as heirlooms from generation. It often made up into necklaces, wristlets, ear rings, girdles, caps, hat, headband, baskets seat mats, jackets and baby carriers. Most of them are still worn nowadays by many groups like Rungus and Murut in Sabah and Kelabit and Bidayuh in Sarawak. Beadwork is still flourishing in Sabah and Sarawak. It is also taught in school and old and new exciting designs are made by children of all the peoples thus keeping alive and developing on of the many beautiful traditional crafts.

Beads were made from seeds, shells, teeth and bones of animal, woods, stones, agates, glass and gems. Some of the oldest beads are made by heating, pulling and winding those materials. Besides the valuable old beads there are in use among all the tribes many small glass beads which are threaded to form a variety of designs, generally in two or more colors, the combination of black and yellow being the most commonly preferred.

Beadwork boards are cut from wood and carved or painted by men whereas the actual beadwork is done by women. Thread is prepared by beating and scrapping a pineapple leaf, lifting the exposed fibers and rolling them on the thigh, but nowadays cotton thread or nylon are often bought from traders and shops who usually sell clumps of beads too. But pineapple thread is easier to work with as it is rigid like nylon, especially after rubbing it with bee's wax yet it is not as slippery as nylon on which the beads tent to slip of position.

The beads decoration which is sewn onto the frame work of wood, rattan and leaf structure, is carefully selected with a certain design is appropriate to a particular social class. For instance the child of a 'paran' who is a leader and a member of aristocratic class may have a beadwork design of an entire human figure or a tiger or hornbill motif and 11-12 tiger's teeth strung around the design. The child of a 'paran lot' who is slightly lower in rank will not have the entire human figure but just the stylized human head bead design on his 'ba' (baby carrier).

The ancient craft of beadwork is still practiced by the peoples of Sabah and Sarawak including more than it is possible to describe in a presentation pack of this size. Examples illustrating its richness and variety may be found not only in Sabah Museum and Sarawak Museum but also in many parts of the state.



Technical Details

Date of Issue 17 February 2001
Denomination 30 sen (30 sen x 4)
Stamp Size 38mm x 28mm
Miniature Sheet Denomination  -
Miniature Sheet Size  -
Stamp Size in Miniature Sheet  -
Perforation 14
Sheet Content 20 stamps
Paper SPM Watermarked, Phosphor Coated
Printing Process Lithography

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