January 5, 2012

Pole Notched Staircase

What can you make out of a 10 inch diameter tree trunk/log with only an axe in your hand?

You can repair a log cabin..or you can make a two log bridge across a small stream. You can even make a bench  or two.... You can put a bird house on top of the log!! Your fancies can take you any where.

Well in an Iban Longhouse or a Bidayuh village in Sarawak you can make a staircase....


A notched staircase from the canteen to the stream - people continue to draw water from the lovely gurgling stream and walk up this staircase every day...Hope one day you can walk down or up and say..."see no hands!!"
(Photo by Sarawakiana at the foothills of Mr. Singai)


Today we can still find this very simple handiwork and facility in Sarawak.

The indigenous people can walk up these steps like circus artistes with their two pails of water or a basket full of rambutans and durians on their back!!

This is both a very environmentally friendly and simple art of living minimally. Today mankind has added so much more on this...

Hoorays to all grandmothers and grandfathers who can still go up and down this kind of wooden notched steps.

And may be that is one of the reasons these elders stay slim and sprightly....

(I chose this angle to show how steep the staircase is from the top...and also because I find it most difficult to decide whether to go down the notched staircase by putting my left foot forward or turn around and climb down the stairs backwards...most longhouse dwellers would automatically put their heels down and in seconds they are below the house and on the ground without holding on to the railings. Some families do not even have the railings!! What a great balancing act!! And I suppose if you are size 12 for shoes you may have to go down or up sideways....and put two hands on the railings. In my experience it takes quite a while to get used to this kind of log notched staircase - "tangga")

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

This message is unrelated to the article.

You mentioned before about Sibu people who went 'back' to China to study. There is one here. Now a big guy in China. I wonder if you are aware of the story.

http://www.sh.chinanews.com/Article_Show.asp?ArticleID=41206

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hi Anonymous..thanks for the reference but it is in a very foreign language which I cannot read!! It is all Greek to me!!

Ann said...

posted on yr FB, a post on Mulu where my son climbed this with support. Must be for Ang Mos.

Ann said...

the long house at durin has side supports too, I was looking at my old photo.

Anonymous said...

This is the information about the person in English. It looks like in order to become big in China, one has to be associated with the communist party (like in boleh, one has to be associated with BN).
http://www.wd999.com/en/wumengchao.htm

It would be a surprise if you people have never heard of him, because he spent his youth time there and studied at Kwong Hua. In 1940, he went 'back' to China to study and stayed there ever since.

By the way, Lee Kwan Yew mastered Mandarin and speaks pretty good Mandarin now. You should also try to follow up!

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Dear Anonymous
Thanks for the tip. If he had studied in Kwong Hua in 1930's he would have known/met my father. Interesting.
A few years ago I visited the area where Lee Kuan Yew built a pagado and mansion for his maternal grandparents..Yes..Lee is a brilliant and admirable man..I am slowly picking up Mandarin..thanks for the encouragement.

Ann said...

CY, you and I are the same, some how we just couldn't do Chinese. Now, i can speak quite well because of my ESOL students from China. But write? KOSONG?

My Dad had classmates and students who returned to China and wasn't allowed to come back to sarawak, unless recently.

Ann said...

Anonymous, was it Tung Hua or Kwong Hua? My dad's friend was in Tung Hua, he has been back to Sarawak in 2000s, My dad has mati-ed, so I can't tell you.

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