Thursday, February 4, 2010

Displacing a tribe? Not that hard to do.

I was on Carey Island recently for work. Work. Hah. That's a lame excuse really. 

I've been wanting to go to the island since time immemorial. An exaggeration, of course. Haha. Really. 

Anyway. I had to 'research' Malaysian artforms, and Mah Meri sculptures were identified as one of them. 

Lucky me. Woot! Someone said when you love what you do, it's not work. Clever fellow. :)

Check out the mask huh? This is what the Mah Meris call Moyang Kalo. Each mask tells a story. And how. :) :(

It's a masterpiece by this guy. Check him out. Master carver (30 years experience no less) Pion Anak Bumbong. 

Firstly, it was mind blowing just to be speaking to him. Prior to the chat, I'd only read about him on the internet. He's a pretty famous guy in his own right. Wining miscellaneous awards. UNESCO among others. Giving interviews like some A-list hollywood star. That's pretty cool in my book. :)
Still, our chat was tinged with sadness. On my part. He was totally cool about it all though.  His is a tribe that is on the edge of extinction. Or rather, assimilating into the generic general nameless faceless community at large. No identity. No name. No history. No heritage. Maybe I'm exaggerating. In this case I like to think that, but I'm afraid that I may not be.

His story told me of a rich heritage that will disappear in the name of development. Of palm oil estate development, to be specific. Give them 10 years? Maybe 20. Even while I was looking for them, and asked an orang asli girl, she didn't know what I was talking about. Maybe it was my strange (to her) accent. Haha. Sigh.

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