Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Sape Of Sarawak

It requires 2-3 persons to carry a large Sape.Note the dragon head at the end of the neck.

A large Sape sitting in a longboat ready to go for a performance.

This could be the largest Sape in the world,made for display at the recent Baram Sape Festival

Description of the Sape in Bahasa Malaysia

Graceful feather dances always accompany the Sape music

A Sape troupe from the Baram area in Miri Division, Sarawak.

The Orang Ulu elders posing infront of the big Sape

A Kenyah warrior dancing to the tune of the Sape

It is only natural that you leap your feet to dance when the melodious Sape music is on.

Matthew Ngau is now one of the top Sape performers in Sarawak. He travels the world to promote Sarawak with his Sape.

Sape is always played in pairs

Alina, who is of mixed parentage of Kelabit and English is also a famed Sape player

Sape is the only musical instrument of the indigenous ethnic groups of Sarawak which still flourishes and has made its presence stronly felt both at home and internationally.It is carved from a tree trunk which is of medium hardness and the Meranti species are the favoured wood.The shape is elongated rectangular with a homogeneous neck extending from one end of the body. The top side of the long narrow body is usually decorated with carvings or painted motifs of the Kayan,kenyah and Penan groups.The back side of the body is always left open.The present day Sape usually has 4 wire strings running parallel from one end of the body to the end of the neck,much like the guitar.In the olden days when wire strings were not available, finely split rattan were used.Many sape are also decorated or attached with the head of the hornbill or dragon at the end of their necks, making them more splendid and appealing.The Sape is usually played in pairs and accompanied by a group of both male and female dancers adorned in their finest costumes. Sarawak has produced many talented and famed Sape players who are tourism ambassadors of the country, promoting the rich cultural and natural assets of the country to the world.


-eiling- said...

wow...a very exotic music instrument. The young generation should pick it up because the skill would become extinct one day.

Bengbeng said...

yr blog is getting to b quite a feast for the eyes. i will b in Kanowit tomorrow. hope to get some great pics

suituapui said...

Matthew was my classmate in college but after a few years as a teacher, he resigned and joined SCV. I hear he goes to the States every year and goes busking with his sape there...and makes the money to travel widely!!!

rubberseeds said...

eiling: Many native people,especially the Kayan, kenyah and Kelabit are learning to play Sape. Have confidence that it wont become extinct.
Bengbeng:Thanks. Hope you have a great trip there.
stp:Oh, I thought he is just a hunter/farmer from the ulu!. Indeed few of them with high education would sacrifice their nice jobs for music.

Peter de Run said...

Good write up on the sape but did you realise that all the information focusses on the sape from the Baram area. The Kayans from Belaga also make sapes but they are smaller and the way the sape is strummed as well as the songs played are different. My father-in-law is a professional sape maker and player (performs for important functions like when the Agong visits etc) and he laments that much focus is on the baram sape and not the Belaga sape which he is famed for. Just thought you would like to know.

Philip said...

Hi Peter, thank you very much for your note on Sape of Belaga.I personally believe that the Sape of Baram is more regularly and prominently featured because the community leaders and other related people in Baram region work harder to promote the musical instrument. Where is your father-in-law located now? I hope to meet him and photograph him in the near future.