After nearly 100 years abroad, 2 Orang Ulu parangs returned to Sarawak this year

Posted on 29 Nov 2023
Source of News:
By Shikin Louis

KUCHING, Nov 28: Two Orang Ulu parangs which were first obtained by Brooke administrative officer Duncan Shimwell McDougal almost 100 years ago, have finally returned home to Sarawak.

Sarawak's Minister of Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Dato Sri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said the parangs were among 43 objects received by the Sarawak Museum Department this year.

"The department's excellent reputation for collection care has instilled confidence and led to the return of Bornean objects from around the world.

"Among the returned objects are two Orang Ulu parangs originally obtained by Mr Duncan Shimwell McDougal, an officer during the Brooke era in the 1920s," he said when presenting his ministerial winding-up speech at the Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting here today.

It was previously reported that the two parangs were obtained by McDougal who lived in Sarawak from the period of 1924 to 1927. Upon his resignation from his government post in 1927, he brought the items with him back to England.

The two parangs were believed to have remained in England for 67 years until they were put up for auction and bought by J.B. Um from Penang, a collector of Borneo tribal art.

The items then stayed in Penang for 29 years until um decided to donate the parangs to the Sarawak Museum through American Dr Louise Macul, a member of Friends of Sarawak Museum (FOSM).

Department also received 19 prints of old Sarawak pictures, 19 objects from Bau, one pua kumbu from Australia and 2 beaded accessories from the United States of America throughout this year. The Sarawak Museum Department, he said, diligently preserves and conserves its collections to ensure they remain in best conditions for display in exhibition galleries.

To date, the total number of collections has reached 402,256, of which the archaeological collection is the largest with 250,205 items (62.2 per cent), followed by 107,000 zoological specimens (26.6 per cent), 21,766 ethnological artefacts (5.4 per cent), 16,885 audio visual collections (4.2 per cent) and 6,400 historical documents (1.6 per cent)

"At present, the digitalisation of these collections is ongoing to enhance their availability to a wider audience and to also ensure the department has a back-up record of all the collections.

"The department has also converted 654 cassette tapes into digital format. This digital audio has been uploaded into the ATHENA system which is a Digital Content Management System.

"This year, the department has digitalized 14,889 pages of historical documents including old maps, manuscripts, fieldnotes and collections logbooks," Abdul Karim revealed.

Additionally, he said the department is using a Thermo Lignum system, a chemical-free pest control method to enhance its heritage preservation efforts.

"It is currently the only machine in Malaysia, making it a benchmark for collection preservation.

"Since its first introduction in June 2023, the Thermo Lignum has sucessfully treated 322 museum collections," he emphasised. - DayakDaily.

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