Hundreds of years ago when the Melanau nobles from Mukah died, the bodies would be placed in a burial pole known as the kelidieng or jerunei.
Moving the kelidieng has never been an easy task as it requires a Shaman to perform specific ritual ceremony.
“In the past, the Melanaus would drill two or three holes in the middle of the keliding, which was made of mature large belian wood,” said Kumpulan Gadeng Teruna Desa Melanau leader Morshidi @ Han Bakri, who was involved in the operation of moving a 200-year-old kelidieng from Sekama to the new museum complex in September last year.
“The hole at the bottom and middle is to place the body of the deceased and his valuables while the hole at the top is for the servant or anyone who has been chosen by the deceased while he is alive.
“In the old days, the funeral procession would be done by the Melanau Pagan. However, it is no longer practiced (by the Melanau community) since the existence of religious beliefs,” said the 67-year-old man.
Speaking on his experience with kelidieng, Morshidi, who is also Kampung Sungai Ud village head, explained that after the kelidieng transfer process was completed, a girl came to him in his dreams who had asked about her clothes.
“The girl, who turned her back on me, told me “miak angai ako, gaanlah bajau ko, ako debei bajau” (I feel very embarrassed, where is my cloth, I am not wearing a cloth).
“As soon as I woke up, I immediately informed the shaman about the dream.
“According to the shaman, the kelidieng, who has the spirit of the Melanau woman, felt ashamed because she was not well covered.
“Since she had only been covered with a carpet before, therefore, the shaman ordered that the kelidieng should be wrapped in a yellow cloth,” he said, adding that after the dream, he felt scared every time he went to sleep.
Apart from that, he said while moving the kelidieng from Sekama to the new museum complex, he and his friend seemed to see the kelidieng as if it had ‘revived’ while they were playing musical instruments throughout the ceremony.
Further elaborating, the Kampung Sungai Ud village head stated that while in the lorry, they had witnessed the kelidieng moving left and right slowly (as if dancing) when they stopped playing musical instruments.
“We were all amazed but we kept playing our musical instruments until the transfer process was complete,” Morshidi explained.
Meanwhile, Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, who was also present during the ceremony, said the kelidieng will be displayed in the permanent exhibition gallery on Level 3 at the new Sarawak Museum.
He also stated that the kelidieng was shipped from Dalat, Mukah to the Sarawak Museum in 1962. However, due to museum renovations, it was temporarily kept in storage in Sekama.