Sarawak’s Tuyang Initiative brings Dayak tradition to the world

Who’s Apai Saloi? Have you ever heard a few chicken named “Kangkaput”? Have you learnt why as an alternative of a handshake or a hug goodbye, you get black stains (soot) in your face after a ceremonial gathering in a Kenyah or Kayan longhouse?

All through this motion management order (MCO) interval, the Tuesday Tales, a new on-line storyteller mission by Sarawak-based The Tuyang Initiative, has been providing a sequence of fantastic folks tales, quick tales and bedtime lullabies from varied indigenous communities in Sarawak, particularly the Kenyah, Iban and Penan tribes.

Because the MCO weeks handed by, this compilation of Sarawakian folks tales, traditions and storyteller reflections, as shared by The Tuyang Initiative members and mates, have steadily grown.

“We all know that individuals are fatigued by pandemic information or articles telling us the way to be tremendous and productive throughout a pandemic. So, we thought to ourselves – why don’t we take the time to share some comparatively quick tales from our communities, some that we had heard or lived by ourselves, ” says Juvita Tatan Wan, 35, in an interview.

Juvita, who has Kenyah heritage, is the co-founder of the Miri-based The Tuyang Initiative, a social enterprise and humanities administration outfit shaped in 2016.

She says the inspiration got here to her whereas she was conserving herself busy at first of the MCO by studying varied folks tales of Malaysia’s indigenous communities and reflecting on tales informed by her father and her elders.

“Folks would get a easy window into a special tradition and a special world altogether – a brief getaway. The Tuesday Tales sequence is so simple as that.

“And the response has been nice up to now! Folks have stated that they’re utilizing them as bedtime tales for his or her youngsters and themselves!” reveals Juvita, who hopes that in the future Tuesday Tales could be revealed as a correct e-book. A yr of misplaced plans Juvita, who’s educated in media innovation, and her father John Wan Usang shaped The Tuyang Initiative (“tuyang” means good friend) to protect the Dayak cultural heritage and supply sustainable financial alternatives for the native communities.

A screenshot of Matthew Ngau Jau (right) and his grandson Luke playing the sape on the Italian-based global online series 'Piccoli Grandi Concerti' on May 2. A screenshot of Matthew Ngau Jau (proper) and his grandson Luke taking part in the sape on the Italian-based world on-line sequence ‘Piccoli Grandi Concerti’ on Might 2.

She left her product advertising job with a telco in KL in 2017, and returned to her hometown in Miri to ascertain a community for The Tuyang Initiative.

In specializing in the Kenyah and Kayan communities, The Tuyang Initiative has collaborated with musicians, storytellers, cultural activists and conventional arts practitioners to give you workshops, arts pageant showcases and outreach programmes.

“We pleasure ourselves in giving alternatives for audiences unfamiliar to Borneo indigenous folks and cultures, to instantly work together with our practitioners in an effort to be taught or hear from them instantly.

“By means of the humanities, we hoped to present our practitioners a significant livelihood – and encourage the continuity of our tradition in a sustainable approach. We did that by courses, exhibitions or showcases, reside performances and extra, ” says Juvita.

Quite worriedly, she reveals that the majority of The Tuyang Initiative’s plans this yr have been ruined. The pandemic outbreak and the MCO have compelled the small staff in The Tuyang Initiative to hit the pause button, and maybe, even cancelling all its programmes, together with in-person courses and staging exhibits.

“Meaning, earnings technology alternatives by these platforms have ceased to exist. Our practitioners are devastated as a result of we had thrilling alternatives lined up for them to return out and share our tradition in methods they really feel are particular and significant to them, ” admits Juvita.

Instead of counting the mounting opportunity and monetary losses caused by Covid-19, Juvita (left) prefers to look on the bright side with alternative plans.  As an alternative of counting the mounting alternative and financial losses brought on by Covid-19, Juvita (left) prefers to look on the intense aspect with various plans.

This was speculated to be a giant yr for The Tuyang Initiative.

Kelunan, a multidisciplinary Dayak theatre mission, which performed on the Damansara Performing Arts Centre in Petaling Jaya final yr, acquired good opinions.

It was The Tuyang Initiative’s first main theatre work, involving conventional music, storytelling and dance.

Kelunan (which implies “folks” in Kenyah/Kayan) was speculated to tour this yr (July until September), beginning in Kuching, then shifting to Japan, Singapore and Thailand.

Each the organisers and members, a cross-generational solid of Kayan and Kenyah cultural practitioners, together with Kenyah Ngorek sape grasp Mathew Ngau Jau (awarded the title of Malaysia’s Dwelling Nationwide Heritage) have been downhearted by the cancellations due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

“These are large platforms not simply when it comes to publicity, but in addition in potential income. So it was onerous for us, each financially and emotionally.

“It was the most important factor for us this yr! We’re saddened by the cancellations and postponements, however we clearly perceive why it’s essential, ” says Juvita.

Staying motivated

The Tuyang Initiative is greater than only a cultural efficiency troupe. It’s a community-based social enterprise and meaning serving to the locals to generate earnings.

“We’re sitting on the crossroads of a social enterprise and as an arts administration firm, in order that places us in a seemingly precarious scenario. We’re working with tradition and individuals who, if we lose them, shall be gone endlessly, ” warns Juvita.

The 'Tuesday Tales' book is an all-ages activity book which combines Bornean indigenous folk tales and pages for colouring.The ‘Tuesday Tales’ e-book is an all-ages exercise e-book which mixes Bornean indigenous folks tales and pages for colouring.

The pandemic has halted the exhibits however Juvita is aware of the enterprise facet of the outfit can’t be uncared for.

“The problem for our staff now could be extra in forcing ourselves to innovate and transfer rapidly within the face of zero income. We’re a social enterprise, so it is crucial for us to make sure we will generate fixed income, which will get reinvested into working and creating extra folks, services, throughout the totally different communities.

“Now, we’re just about reimagining what we’ve got readily available – present services, wealth of information of our elders and exercising our personal creativity to succeed in a keen viewers, ” elaborates Juvita.

The Tuyang Initiative’s group supervisor and cultural practitioner Adrian Jo Milang can be not dropping hope.

“These circumstances that we face collectively proper now don’t suggest the top to what I’m certain are super feats in what we’ve got finished, in no matter we do, or had seemed ahead to doing, ” says Adrian, 21, a Kayan storyteller/performer.

He’s the youngest practitioner of the oral traditions Parap (impromptu songs) and Takna (epics about warrior heroes).

And certainly, The Tuyang Initiative has been onerous at work. The staff has already give you a number of methods to generate earnings from what they’ve obtainable.

A screenshot of the Tuesday Tales series on Facebook.A screenshot of the Tuesday Tales sequence on Fb.

“The staff at Tuyang are working onerous to try to be certain that you gained’t overlook concerning the likes of me, and the cultural practitioners who’re affected by this, each emotionally and financially, ” says Mathew, 67, who is predicated in Bau, Kuching.

On Might 2, Mathew lifted the spirits of Tuyang ‘household’ when he appeared in a live performance sequence streamed on Italy’s Associazione Tradition del Mondo’s Fb channel.

In a present of teamwork, Mathew additionally acquired tech steerage and ethical help from Tuyang Initiative group members in Miri, who pieced his house recording collectively for the Piccoli Grandi Concerti present.

Bau is now a Covid-19 yellow zone and Mathew hopes for higher – and safer – days forward to proceed together with his sape taking part in and courses.

“I miss assembly and interacting with folks at my homestay or exhibiting folks how I make sape in my humble workshop,” he says.

The necessity to go digital

There’s a good probability of witnessing extra of Mathew’s sape mastery with a proposed digital staging of Kelunan, full with a bodily programme e-book mailed to viewers. Digital tickets shall be introduced quickly with a possible on-line streaming launch date subsequent month.

For now, solely the technical groundwork – cameras, sounds, surtitles and visuals – have begun. The efficiency will then be pre-recorded in a yet-to-be recognized area in Miri for a digital viewers, with lots of the unique Kelunan solid returning, together with Mathew and Adrian.

The Kelunan on-line present will run for a couple of days, with a world viewers being a bonus.

You may also join on-line courses in handmade Dayak arts and crafts, whereas additionally studying dances and music taught by varied arts practitioners within the Tuyang group.

Juvita says Tuyang can be finalising plans for the Tuesday Tales exercise e-book – a mixture of Borneo indigenous folks tales and colouring e-book. The e-book shall be obtainable for pre-order quickly on Tuyang’s official web site.

A screenshot of The Tuyang Initiative's upcoming virtual version of its theatre show 'Kelunan', which was supposed to tour in various Asian cities, starting in July. The tour has been cancelled because of the Covid-19 outbreak.A screenshot of The Tuyang Initiative’s upcoming digital model of its theatre present ‘Kelunan’, which was speculated to tour in varied Asian cities, beginning in July. The tour has been cancelled due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Mathew, who has been coping throughout this Covid-19 keep house interval by making customized kalong artwork items, is receiving help from Tuyang to advertise his artwork.

“I had a restricted quantity of handmade breadfruit tree bark canvas left at house. Portray on textured materials like this can be a problem, however a problem I really love as a result of it creates surprises by the feel, and can at all times be certainly one of a sort, ” says Mathew.

Finally, Juvita stays focussed on retrieving one thing from this clean yr. The duty forward isn’t going to be an easygoing Tuesday Story, however with sheer perception and onerous work, there’s a probability to maintain The Tuyang Initiative ticking by these unsure occasions.

“The ‘why’ we determined to start out Tuyang doesn’t change, however the ‘how’ must be requested once more. We might want to doubtlessly work out an entire new enterprise mannequin for us.

“That is to make sure what we do is sustainable, and never simply do one thing to plug a monetary gap on this time, but in addition to make sure our targets for significant livelihood for our practitioners in addition to cultural continuity stays intact, ” concludes Juvita.

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