March 11, 2002
The museum was conceived by Charles Brooke, one of the White Rajahs, and constructed in 1891 and expanded in 1911. We found it offered more than enough to keep us busy for most of the day. Although it definitely has the "feel" of an old museum, the displays were remarkably well-designed. For the most part, the lighting is even sufficient, something I cannot say for others of the same vintage, the Egyptian Museum in Cairo being one that leaps to mind.
In terms of what is on display, under no circumstances should one miss the section devoted to tatooing and clothing. This is fascinating. The tatoo designs illustrated are of an extraordinary richness, rivaled only, I think, by those of the Maori in New Zealand.
Another wonderful section covers basketry and weaving. Although the tribes of riverine Sarawak were decidedly primitive from a Western point of view, their weaving techniques were highly sophisticated. Some of the baskets you see here are truly amazing, both in terms of their physical shape but in regard to the complexity of the design motifs used as well.
From journal Kuching, the Cat City