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Talk on Tuked Rini, a Kelabit Highlands legend

The public are invited to a free talk “Tuked Rini, Cosmic Traveller: mapping out the ideal human being” organised by Friends of Sarawak Museum (FoSM).

It will be held at Telang Usan Hotel, Kuching on Jan 16 from 7.30pm.

The speaker, Monica Janowski is a research fellow of Sarawak Museum Campus Project.

Tuked Rini is one of a number of heroes, both male and female, about whom oral stories were told until recently in the Kelabit Highlands and neighbouring highland areas.

In 1986, Janowski recorded a story about the adventures of Tuked Rini from one of the last people able to tell such a story, Balang Pelaba of Pa’ Dalih.

The story tells of his travels around the cosmos doing battle with spirits and spirit-like powerful people.

Janowski argues that the story of Tuked Rini presents a model for ideal human behaviour, both male and female.

The story talks not only of male adventures but of female achievements in growing rice.

Rice-growing, associated with women, in particular, is regarded as a supreme cosmological achievement and as complementary to the bringing in by men of cosmic power through hunting and head-hunting.

Those interested are advised to register with Anita by calling 019-8870811, or send email to [email protected]

The public are invited to a free talk “ Tuked Rini, Cosmic Traveller: mapping out the ideal human being” organised by Friends of Sarawak Museum (FoSM).

About the speaker of “ Tuked Rini, Cosmic Traveller: mapping out the ideal human being ”

Monica Janowski has a BA in History from the University of Sussex and an M.Phil in Social Anthropology from the University of Cambridge.

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Her M. Phil dissertation was on the Naga people of NE India. She completed her Ph.D. in Social Anthropology in 1991 at the London School of Economics, based on two years of fieldwork in the Kelabit Highlands in Sarawak.

Her Ph.D. dissertation focused on the significance of rice-growing and the rice meal for the Kelabit.

She has continued to do fieldwork in the Kelabit Highlands since 1991.

This has included collaborative work with archaeologists and environmental scientists in the Cultured Rainforest Project, funded by the British Arts and Humanities Research Council, between 2007 and 2011.

Janowski conceived and led that project with the archaeologist Prof. Graeme Barker.

Janowski curated the exhibition which came out of the Cultured Rainforest Project. This was at the University of Cambridge in 2013 and at the Oil Museum in Miri in 2015.

In Miri, the exhibition included the large collection of Kelabit craft objects which Monica collected for the Sarawak Museum in 1986-88.

Part of the exhibition was transferred to Bario in the Kelabit Highlands in 2016.

In her research in the Kelabit Highlands, Janowski has increasingly focused on the social, spiritual and cosmological aspects of the way in which people relate to the environment in which they live.

This is expressed in stories and legends like that of Tuked Rini.

Janowski has always had a strong interest in communicating research findings beyond the academic world, and particularly in the telling of stories.

Janowski is collecting legends and stories about dragons, some of which will be presented in the new museum galleries, and hopefully also in a book.

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She plans to commission local artists to produce paintings of dragons to go with the stories, both in the galleries and in the book.