November 26, 2011

A Bornean Rural Library - Baruk Style

In many parts of the world one can see Round Houses. In Borneo the Bidayuh also has their special community hall called the Baruk which is circular in shape.

In a recent road trip I had the opportunity to visit Mt. Singai which is in Bidayuh "country" of Sarawak...And I had my first real encounter with this magnificient Rural Library (Perpustakaan Desa) in the shape of a Baruk - the traditional Bidayuh Round House which was once used as community hall for warriors to display their trophies as well as a very egalitarian meeting place for the whole community. In this way the Bidayuh professed their classless society and remained harmonious and united.

The Bidayuhs also live in longhouses but their round house is their architectural pride. Parts of the roof can be opened like shutters. The original roof was made of atap or leaves (You can still find several of these original Baruk in parts of First Division of Sarawak). The opening of shutters on the roof let in breeze and the sunlight.

This kind of building structure is truly GREEN and environmentally friendly.

Main door way of the Baruk
Baruk from the side. I am sure like the Mongolians the Bidayuhs can easily dismantle this Baruk and move it piece by piece to another site.
The Government Rural Library of Bau
Cement Water Tank
Side view of the building with traditional supporting poles. According to the historical documents available a house like this was traditionally built without a single nail. Twines and ropes made of natural fibre would bind the wood together.  The Baruk is usually built 1.5 metres about the ground. Sometimes this was used a the community's granary besides many other functions. It is no easy for anyone to climb into the building...Look at the shutters (white) and see how easily it can be opened upwards.

so now when a rural district library is housed in a Baruk it thus becomes the most unique library in the world!! A Round House which is a House of Knowledge!!

What a wonderful and intelligent idea. It  kindly portrays the Bidayuh egalitarian philosophy that knowledge is for all to share.

To me a Baruk is a good symbol for "No Child Left Behind" policy of egalitarian education. 


William said...


Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hi William..interesting isn't it even to those of us who have been living in Sarawak for many years and we still don't know about this spectacular structure...

Ann said...

this is great, no need for aircon. My sis Eliza's daughter in law is a Bidayu.

Sarawakiana@2 said... need for air con (unless the global warming is unbearable).

Must double check with her Bidayuh in they feel about this architecture...Your family is a lMalaysia family!!

Life Ramblings said...

this is fascinating. the library is truly one of a kind.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Yes...and I really salute the Bidayuhs for value-ing their own cultural heritage in this way!! Well done!!

It will be the only one in the world!!

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