KUCHING: A 120-year-old ornamental paddle has been unveiled by the Brooke Gallery here to mark its reopening after being closed since March 18.
The wooden paddle was believed to have been presented to Sarawak’s Rajah Muda Anthony Brooke in the early 20th century, according to museum manager Liza Sideni.
“The paddle has been dated to 1900. It was given to Anthony Brooke, probably by a tribal leader in the 1920s, during one of his trips upriver.
“We think it’s made from belian (ironwood), but there are very few details about it.
“Research is still being carried out, ” she said at the gallery’s reopening yesterday.
She said the paddle had been in the collection of the Brooke Trust, a British charity founded by members of the Brooke family who once ruled Sarawak, and was recently brought back for display in the gallery.
It is slightly over 1m long and has an intricately carved traditional design.
Liza said the paddle would be displayed in a section of the gallery on the Sarawak Regatta.
“Charles Brooke, the second Rajah, started the Sarawak Regatta in 1872 as a means to defuse tribal conflict.
“We hope that by displaying new objects, more people will come to learn about and appreciate our rich history, ” she said.
Located in the historic Fort Margherita, the gallery tells the story of Sarawak’s history under the rule of the White Rajahs from 1841 to 1941 up to the formation of Malaysia.
Fort Margherita is celebrating its 140th anniversary this year, making it one of the oldest buildings in Sarawak.
“We’re planning some events to mark the anniversary.
“They include an educational programme for children and an essay writing competition on heritage, ” said Liza.
She also said the gallery had put in place a standard operating procedure (SOP) for its reopening.
The SOP included measures such as visitor registration, temperature checks and social distancing.
“We understand that it’s a challenging time with Covid-19 and it’s our responsibility to maintain the SOP and make sure it is safe for people to visit.
“We are not so dependent on foreign tourists as we have always emphasised visits by locals and we actively encourage local school visits.
“We believe that local museums must be visited and supported by the local people, ” she said.
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