Sabah village’s artwork a highlight every N-Day

Getting creative: Hanna says the women turned to YouTube to learn more about beading styles, techniques and materials that could last.

KOTA KINABALU: Every August and September, residents in Sabah’s northern village of Matunggong close to Kudat district observe their own National and Malaysia Day showcase.

Among others, they hold exhibitions on local handicrafts and conduct food and beverage tastings.

A highlight is the display of the beaded Jalur Gemilang and Sabah flag.

These flags were once the pride of the village, especially a group of women who spent much time weaving and stringing the beads piece by piece until their “masterpiece” was completed in 2019.

Hanna Porodong, 57, who proposed the idea to the villagers, said it was a project meant to be listed in the Malaysia Book of Records (MBOR) for having the most beads in a flag.

She said it was also an attempt by the womenfolk of Kampung Tinangol to showcase their talent and portray their love for the nation.

Hanna said the women turned to YouTube to learn more about beading styles, techniques and materials that could last.

“There were 15 of us involved in the project and after we did our research, we got down to beading every single day, without any payment.

“It took us almost a month to complete one Jalur Gemilang.

“We made sure the strings used were of sturdy material,” said Hanna, who is an assistant administrator at the district welfare office.

She said the district office provided RM3,000 for the women to make the flags, with a total of 54,442 beads used for the Jalur Gemilang and 53,790 for the Sabah flag.

Each flag weighs over 5kg and is 193cm long.

“When we first proposed the idea, we were told that the standard size flags we did were not big enough to break the record, so we set out to make a bigger one,” said Hanna.

However, she said they were not aware that the MBOR nomination would involve expenses, adding that they were given a quotation of RM12,000 to bring MBOR officials to Sabah to get their beaded flags listed.

Hanna said that not having any funds, the dejected women proceeded with the plan to make the enlarged beaded flags, adding that they spent three months on it, spending RM8,000 of their own savings to buy the necessary materials with the hope of selling them once completed.

“The most challenging part was to get the crescent and star correct and we had a dedicated person to take charge of this,” she said.

Hanna lamented that it has been over four years now and the beaded flags are just put away for storage most of the time.

“It is collecting dust because we do not have the money to hire the officials to come and list our product in the MBOR,” she added.

Hanna said the beaded flags are only brought out during the National Day month and then stored again.

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