So a month back I revisited Lawas on an official visit, after a two year hiatus from the place. If you don't already know where the place is, hey do a quick Google.
My sum on the place: Lawas is this small quiet border town in Limbang Division of Sarawak. A whole day and a half journey by road crossing via Brunei, or 45 minutes flight on a Twin Otter transiting via Miri. Or you could also fly to Kota Kinabalu and then take a 3-hour road trip via Sipitang to get here.
There are many small wonders to this place. I don't even know how to keep writing this entry without sounding any less delighted or if I could recapture that brief Oh-Wow moment when I discovered what I had been subconsciously looking for. Eh I found them quite by chance, in Lawas.
Did I ever tell you that I have quite an extensive collection of trinkets, lockets, bangles, earpieces? My favorites are the natives'. Do I wear them? Not usually. Not all the time anyway, depending on the occasion. I just like to collect them. I supposed you could say I'm a normal girl in that aspect.
Adding to my collection is this beautiful awesome piece: a ceramic bead necklace embedded with a native 'bunga terung' motifs. Bunga terung or eggplant flower motif is a popular Iban tattoo design, the most basic tattoo art usually inked on a coming-of-age Iban male to mark his err manhood. (So help me Wiki...).
Hello baby... you're mine at last!
This lady, Ms Mirit Tai, a small-time craft entrepreneur manning the booth, explained that she herself is a Lunbawang of Lawas origin, but she uses this design a lot on her crafts because like she put it and I quote: "It sells. People signifies it with Sarawak, and its popular with the tourists and natives alike. What better way to associate yourself with the homeland you love the most?" I couldn't agree more. I mean, I'm a Bidayuh and I find this knowledge a unifying force of Sarawak, the land of rich tribes and cultures.
The Lunbawang tribe (or also known as Orang Ulu in a more generic sense) are famous for their beadworks, and their creative skills with ceramics beads are legendary. According to Ms Mirit, they produce the ceramic beads themselves. It's a few days job producing the perfect clay beads. The village where she comes from, Long Tuma, is quite known among the locals for craft products. The Lunbawang designs are normally painted in yellow and black on the beads, but she gets to experiment with other bright colours as well, just for variety.
Well hello. I love it when I keep discovering secrets about my own backyard.
I lurvvvee my native ceramic pendant necklace...
The soft spoken Ms Mirit rolled up twisted and pulled a few tricks on this sturdy string made up of err (man I forgot to ask!) and expertly assembled three other native necklaces using the designs I just picked.
Ms Mirit Tai stringing up a new necklace piece...
Ceramic bead necklace, like native charm medallions...
Ms Mirit also sells these lovely earrings made up ceramic beads. Imagine that dangling sensation. I don't really normally go for these but they would make perfect souvenirs.
Fancy native earrings...
And native bracelets! A girl must at least own one of these in all her life. They're normally tied together using an elasticized band so don't worry if your wrists are a little chubby, like mine. These too would be nice as souvenirs (for those people who hound you about giving them something from that place every time you go somewhere). Neat what. They're mostly unisex.
Ceramic bead bracelets in many designs
I have a lot of these in my treasure box too. Haha. They're like friendship bands except they lasts much longer than that. :-)
String bead bracelets
I actually wrote this entry with the lady in mind. Wasnt planning on it but sometimes I believe some good things must be shared, and besides, although I made no promise, I was hoping I could help her expand her business. Didn't I read somewhere that there's a special place in Heaven for women who helped other women? Amen.
Ms Mirit Tai (right) with the hardly-photographed Coffee Girl ...
Ms Mirit takes up personal orders, group orders, corporate orders, special orders or any custom orders for her beadworks or other handcrafts. She promises fair and reasonable prices for orders made directly to herself. And so help me God because I am writing this with no charge.
For enquiries, you may contact:
Ms Mirit Tai
Handmade Ceramic Beads
PO Box 319
Mobile: (I haven't gotten her permission to publish, but wait ah... let me find her business card first)