Late Iban historian immortalised

The doodle artwork featuring Sandin on Google.

KUCHING: Iban folklorist and ethnographer Benedict Sandin was immortalised by Google through a doodle on its website.

On his 102nd birthday celebration, Google paid tribute to the Iban-born historian who had once served as a curator for Sarawak Museum.

“A member of the Iban — one of the largest ethnic groups in what is now Malaysia — Sandin earned scholarly acclaim as one of the world’s foremost experts on the Iban and dedicated his life to the preservation of his native heritage.

“Today’s Doodle celebrates the 102nd birthday of Sarawak-born folklorist and ethnographer Benedict Sandin, who served as the curator of the oldest museum in Borneo; the Sarawak Museum,” it said.

Benedict Sandin was born Sandin Attat on Oct 18, 1918 in Sarawak where his father first introduced him to the poetic Iban language, which Sandin went on to master.

Google noted that in 1941, Sandin began work in the Sarawak civil service, and his gift for writing eventually led to an assignment as the editor of Pembrita—the first news publication in the Iban language.

His articles attracted the attention of the Sarawak Museum’s curator, who recruited him to join the museum’s staff in a special post in 1952.

Soon after, Sandin was accepted to a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) fellowship programme in New Zealand, through which he studied museum techniques and anthropology.

“As a testament to Sandin’s invaluable ethnographic achievements, he was named the Curator of the Sarawak Museum and Government Ethnologist in 1966, a position he held for the better part of a decade.

“Thank you, Benedict Sandin, for safeguarding and preserving indigenous tradition and heritage for generations to come,” Google said.