Mural will help to promote Padawan

Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah (centre) sharing a light moment with the Semban ring ladies (from left) Singai Nekan, Tawud Luhan and Peluk Abeh (right) in front of the mural. Photo: Ramidi Subari

KUCHING: The mural of ‘The Last Ring Ladies’ in Kota Padawan will help to promote Padawan to the locals and tourists.

Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said the mural which is the largest one in Kuching, is strategically located as the building that it is painted on, faces the main Kuching-Serian road.

“Kota Padawan is the gateway to Semenggoh Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, Annah Rais Bidayuh Longhouse, Semadang Kayaking site, Ulu Bengoh tourism site, and many others.

“It will be as though the Bidayuh ring ladies are welcoming visitors to the area,” he said during the Padawan Municipal Council’s (MPP) 24th anniversary celebration and the launching of The Last Ring Ladies Mural at Kota Padawan Mall on Monday (Dec 14).

He said the idea of the mural art came about following the premiere of Sarawakian-made documentary ‘The Last Ring Ladies’ on international broadcasting channel, NHK (Japan), KBS (Korea), and PTS (Taiwan) since August last year, in which the documentary is also shown on TVS in November this year.

“The mural art project is supported by my ministry, MPP, NG Picture and Dian Kiara Sdn Bhd. Measuring 13.7m x 36.5m, this is the largest mural art in Kuching,” he said, adding that the painting started on June 30 this year and was completed on Sept 30 this year.

He added the mural was painted by Sarawak’s very own Leonard Siaw and he was commissioned to paint the mural, titled ‘Dayung Hmuai Semban’ or ‘The beautiful ladies of Semban’.

“We are very proud of Siaw. He spent about 13 weeks to complete the mural. It was hard being under the mercy of the tropical weather but I believe it is a satisfying job,” he said.

On the mural, the traditional Semban ladies are featured with their Ruyank’ng and Rasunk’ng which embodies the distinctive culture of the Bi’embhan, which is a sub-ethnic of Bidayuh from Ulu Bengoh in Sarawak.

Ruyank’ng and Rasunk’ng are the copper coiled rings worn respectively on the forearms and calves. The rings are traditionally important to Bidayuh ladies, who put them on at a very young age.

It has become part of their daily wear which also symbolises beauty and nobility. The wearers were not supposed to take off the rings when doing their daily chores.

Their traditional costume Bulang Sebi (headgear), Tumbih (necklaces), Kain Ngumban (red sash), Sisink’ng and Wi (belts), Baju Putang (blouse), and Jemuh Sulam (skirt/sarong) are known as the unique tradition of the Semban ladies.

“There are now only a handful of Ring Ladies left. They range in age from 69 to 94,” he said.

Abdul Karim added each time he meets the Ring Ladies, he would feel sentimental seeing the Ring Ladies having to wear the coiled copper rings throughout their lives.