January 7, 2011

Kampong Nangka Melanau Christian Cemetery

For many generations the Chinese and the Melanaus (once upon a time called Orang Sibu by the Brooke rulers) lived side by side . The Foochows lived in Sg. Merah and the Heng Huas lived in Sg. Teku. The Cantonese were alloted land in Sg. Salim. And the Hokkiens were the merchants who conducted their businesses in Pulau Babi and on the "island" (now Sibu Town).

When Rev James Hoover conducted his Sunday worship in Sibu a few "Orang Sibu" would drop by according to documents related to his work in Sibu.

the Roman Catholic Church evangelised amongst the Melanaus converting many of them (hence their burial place behind St. Teresa in Sg. Merah perhaps. There are indeed very few Melanaus who are MethodistsT

thus this cemetery along the Sg. Seduan must have been alienated to the Melanaus of Kampong Nangka to bury their dead as early as 1870's . These two headstones (belian wood) can vouch for this primary source of historical record. Recently the Melanau Community erected a shed to protect the earliest "headstones" of their community leaders of those early years.

Beautiful ceramic photo on a tomb in the cemetery. There was one man (Tang Ying kee) who was a specialist in making this kind of pictures in Sibu). A walk in this cemetery can reveal a great treasure chest of Melanau history.

The small river which is Sg. Seduan joins the Igan River further down from this point. This could have been the landing point of a Melanau funeral procession from Kampong Nangka which lies on the east bank of the Igan nearer Sibu.

Today the Melanau cemetery forms part of the Sibu Heritage Walk. But more beautification could make this truly a historical and remarkable cultural place!!

If the trees could speak they would tell the beautiful tales of the lives of the Melanaus who lived and traded in this area.


Daniel Yiek said...

Interesting! Some people are scared of cemeteries even in broad daylight. I was alone at a cemetery a few years back and it was so peaceful that I could hear the flies.

Ah Ngao said...

yes Daniel,many times the cemetaries are the peaceful place where you can relax with tranquility,contemplates and may be "talk" with the deceased - no cluttering of humans nags.

pauline said...

the beautiful tomb photo is my Tua-yee-poh..my late grandma eldest sister..Right?

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Dear Daniel
Cemeteries and any memorial places are great sources of historical information....peaceful indeed.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Ah Ngao....you can always find more places than a cemetery to get away from naggers!! My favourite place would be the seaside.... watching the sun set and drinking some nice Ling Chi Kang....and my mind would be transported to Seventh Heaven...

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Pauline...I took many photos of your relatives...so you recognise the picture!!

I also discovered the late Maltese lady ...you know her?

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Pauline....do you have some of their life stories to share with me?

pauline said...

Late Maltese lady - am not sure?
Their Life stories...I was vv young then and am not sure or rather confused who is who..haha.
If I go back to the kampong the older generation will know who I am cos I looked like my late mum.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

It is alright Pauline...I will try my best to learn about Melanau History and stories of the famous people.

You and Teresa have a beautiful mother. Do you know that my grand dad was asked to marry a Melanau beauty when my grandmother passed away? He however had already agreed to a match...otherwise our stories would have been very different....Fate?