Get close to the people here who are from the Bidayuh Rasong ethnic and you can feel their warm hospitality towards you. Don’t forget to meet the Ladies of The Ring and the bamboo musician in the village. Take picture with them. There are only a few of them left because some were already get off the brass rings because of the rings sometimes hurting them and it needs a lot job to clean the brass everyday.I was here last week, hosted by Sarawak Tourism Board and the trip was fun indeed, I went together with Jawlinda and Deckson.We stay with Sagen family (Semban Village stay 014-8808123).Sarawak Bloggers Community are happy to play their role to promote Sarawak as Tourist Destination.
Group photo with Bidayuh Ring Ladies
Seems that there are only 5 Bidayuh elder women left in Semban village who are still wearing the copper rings. Many years ago, according to Sagen, many women would still be wearing them but slowly things changed and many of the younger generations prefer bracelets and anklets. Things didn’t look promising for the tradition of wearing the rings when even school teachers begin to ban students from wearing them.
I didn’t know that Bidayuh women wore copper rings on their arms and legs as a sign or beauty and status until I saw it for myself in Semban. Our guide Sagen did mention it but I never thought much of the rings back then. Now that I have seen them myself, I have to agree that they are most beautiful and in its own way very majestic. The sad thing is that there are only 5 of the women left who are still wearing the rings.
The bamboo musician
I am not all that sure if the rings are made of copper or brass. But an old newspaper cutting in Sagen’s house stated that the rings were actually made of yellow copper. Called Rasung and Ruyang where believed to be obtained from foreign traders 100 years ago and wearers back then are considered to be ‘somebody’. Wearing the rings is more of a personal choice. While they signify beauty and status, the wearer is subjected to physical pain, often having to grow up with atrophied limbs The Bidayuh women came to meet us in their finest. They seem very proud of the rings they are wearing and their clothes have been beautifully decorated with beads of all kind. One thing I also notice is that they go everywhere with their chewing kit, known as ’Lonok’.
For someone to wear those rings since the age of 12, and still did everything anyone else did (they still work on their farms even with the rings on!), I would say that these women are really a respectable lot. As the lure of big cities and the prospect of an easier life vacuums away the younger generation from the village, the practice of wearing copper Rasung and Ruyang will soon be a thing of the past. A sad end to such beauty and charm of the Bidayuh’s in Semban.