March 4, 2012

Seduan River

A huge boat like this sailed up the Seduan River and deposted 1118 Foochows here at this point and the history of Sarawak changed forever!!

When the Foochow pioneers arrived in Sibu they were amazed by the fertile green country and the huge rivers. Their ship like the one in the photo arrived on the east bank  of the Rajang River. And the group later walked to Seduan passing the Melanau kampong (probably today's Kampong Nangka) They then settled on the bank of a smaller river called Sg.Seduan. This river they knew to be the river which drained the land belonging to the local natives who were Sibu and/or Seduan Melanaus. Their spoken language was different from those of the Ibans and the Malays. There was an account too that there was a small population of the Seduan people living in a village (most probably Kampong Nangka of today) . Their houses were "on stilts and the roofs were thatched".
A decorative bridge spanning across the Seduan River
Today "Sg. Merah" is a preferred term which was perhaps created over time but the bazaar gearing that name which sprang up in 1901 became a bustling suburb of Sibu in the 1980's and today it has become really more prograssive and attractive.

The bridge across the Seduan River (or Sungei Merah because of the red water)  continues to link Sibu and the interior parts. The vicinity is registered as Seduan Land on maps produced by the Lands and Survey Department of Sarawak..
From 1901 the Foochows have been calling the two rows of shops or bazaar Sing Chu San. This bazaar has been a popular mini metropolis for Melanaus and other native groups to trade and exchange goods. A little towards the confluence of the Igan and the Seduan is one of the largest Melanau Cemetery in Sarawak. One of the oldest headstones belonged to a Melanau (Seduan) chief and is dated 1800's.

One of the oldest Ibans I have ever met from Bawang Assan said that "Sungei Merah was the biggest town he had ever seen in his life!!"

Seduan is actually a speech variety spoken by the Kampong Nangka Melanau who are categorised as Sibu Melanau. Sibu is also another Melanau word which describes the Melanaus of Sibu. Hence this is another explanation of how Sibu got its name. From the original people who lived there!!

I like the way many people call Kampong Nangka - Village of Jackfruits. Nangka is a Melanau /Seduan word for Jackfruit.

Sibu Melanau: Seduan (Speech variety #16679)

Speech Variety Code:#16679
Speech Variety Name:Sibu Melanau: Seduan
Status:Needs Verification
Registry Of Dialects (ROD) Code:Does not qualify
ISO 639-3 Language Code:sdx
ISO 639-3 Language Name: Sibu Melanau
ISO Macrolanguage Name: 
Ethnologue 16th Edition Code:sdx
Ethnologue 16th Edition Name:Sibu Melanau
GRN Name:Sibu: Seduan
Number of speakers:420
Alternate names for Sibu Melanau: Seduan

Where Sibu Melanau: Seduan is spoken

Here's a complete list of the different speech varieties of the Melanau language

Kuala Rajang:
  1. Melanau Rajang
  2. Melanau Jerijeh
  3. Melanau Belawai
  4. Melanau Segalang
  5. Melanau Paluh
Seduan / Sibu
  1. Melanau Sibu
  2. Melanau Kanowit
  3. Melanau Tanjong
  4. Melanau Igan
  5. Melanau Banyuk
  1. Melanau Matu
  2. Melanau Daro
  3. Melanau Pulau Beruit
  4. Melanau Batang Lasa
  1. Melanau Mukah
  2. Melanau Dalat
  3. Melanau Oya
  4. Melanau Sungai Kut
Melanau Balingian ( diancam kepupusan)

  1. Melanau Vaie
  2. Melanau Tatau
  3. Melanau Niah
  4. Melanau Sungai Kemena
  5. Melanau Sibiew 
Dialek yang telah pupus:
  1. Melanau Sitieng
  2. Melanau Beliun
  3. Melanau Segalang 
  4. Melanau Seru

The book "Wanderings in the Great Forests of Borneo " is a good read for those who like plants and travel stories. Beccari specifically mentioned the tribe of Sibu and the fort of Sibu. He also mentioned Pulau Kaladi (Sg. Bidut).

I believe that if our researchers and scholars dwell more intensely on local history we will be able to find fabulous stories to share with our future generations.


Ref : 

  1. Melanau, Sibu: a language of Malaysia (Sarawak). Lewis, M. Paul (editor). 2009. SIL International (
Other known names and dialect names: Banyok, Sibu Melanau, Seduan, Seduan-Banyok, Sibu, Siduan, Siduani

2. Learn Melanau (Facebook)

3. Wanderings in the Great Forests of Borneo . O.Beccari.  Oxford University Press 1989 (p. 317 ff)


天鵝江畔 said...

CY, according the account from Rev Ling Ung Chung the ship actually stopped at the Tua Pek Kong Wharf, where the Sibu Pasar located. Then they walked all the way approx 5 km via Malay Kampung along Igan River and reached Sg Merah(Seduan) 16 March 1901.111yrs back Sg seduan still remain WILD and not many people inhabit.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Thank you for the correction. Will edit..

Ann said...

May be I should hired that boat, so you can come and visit me.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hi Ann...Mr. David Chin is nearer can hire his boat..and we meet half way...that's a good story to write. Cheers.

Chamberlain Michael said...

wow... u really into research in Melanau. By the way, i'm a seduan melanau. According to the old folks, the melanau settle now at Kpg Nangka due to a plague occur at Seduan which force the villager to move to other part along Igan river to settle down. If you are interested more in the history, u may approach my uncle which is the current headman.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Dear Chamberlain..thank you so much for visiting my blog and commenting. We will really appreciate this. Perhaps my friends and I will come and visit your Uncle..and know more about the Seduans...After March 20th. and can we have some good phone numbers too? We Foochows must know more about our environment and see things in greater perspective! thanks.

Ann said...

I only want to hire it to take you here.

I don't like the boat. Sick and tired of them when I was a kid going to my Ah Kung's house in Lanang rd, and my WAI Kungs house in Durin.

As an adult, my young bro Joseph took me fishing in the Ocean in Australia. I am a land person thank you.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Ann...I am surprised that you are a land person...I must have ancestors who were sea people..(Foochows were fishermen)..and perhaps I am a reincarnation of a pirate woman ...hahahahha

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