Friday, December 12, 2008

The Sarawak Almanac

The Sarawak Almanac is just so uniquely Sarawak that I cannot really explain to someone who does not see it as thus.

I cannot remember exactly when I started using one as it has always been around me. But the first time I was "awarded" one was when I taught in the Limbang Government School in 1974 and the Principal gave out one to each Head of Department. It thus became a kind of "award and or reward" for a Sarawak civil servant who has a "position which requires an Almanac". That is how I look at it in one way. Government bodies are given free limited copies in the past. I am not sure about the situation now. Those who hold lesser posts have to buy their own or just have to refer to the free ones lying around the staff room. There were even small jealousies caused by the awarding of the Almanac. Little trickling of " kiasuism " over a small government issued Almanac.

Years later I found out that some friends who used to serve in Sarawak also treasure it and I started giving the Almanac as gifts. Several years ago I made the Almanac my special Christmas gift and sent them out as postal gifts to these Friends of Sarawak i.e. friends who have served alongside me in Sarawak and are now back home in their own countries. But because of mobility and cost of postage and also the Internet a calendar slowly becomes just a desk top or shelf top item rather than a necessity like in the olden days.

I was very happy when a friend wrote from overseas "now I can tell when Chinese New Year is exactly without having to go to Chinatown" using the Almanac I sent.

The Sarawak Almanac has three calendars in one ie Gregorian and Lunar and Muslim calendars!! It is indeed a unusual reference.

This is my 2008 Almanac . By the way I received a free one at the beginning of year when the company offered me a spare copy after giving out to all the Heads of Department. This gift is really treasured and sits on my small desk. My reading glasses are kept at its traingular base for quick retrieval.

What I like most about the almanac is the chronology printed at the back of each month. I can easily refer to the some very significant years and historical incidents by just flipping the pages and there I have easy references from 1842 until this present year. Do you know that a Cutch factory was built in Sarikei District? When was that? Check out the Almanac.

This is a Brooke legacy . For those who do not know much about pre-1963 Malaysian - Sarawak History the Almanac is indeed a good quick history fix.

The Almanac is useful because it has a complete page for school terms and holidays.

It also has other important facts like king tide predictions and all the Chinese Festivals and Muslim Festivals and with lots of details too.

So for a mere (hopefully controlled) price of RM6.50 in the free market it is a very very good calendar to buy.

It is indeed an uniquely Sarawak item. One of a kind in the world!!

Don't leave Sarawak without one! (replicating the Visa advertisement) and to all my fellow Sarawakians do value this little treasure!

9 memories:

Bengbeng said...

i treasure it especially for the tide information, when low tide, king tide etc. i dont like to be caught in floods unawares. i dont have one so i have to refer to others. the Bako pic by Steve was beautiful. i read yr accompanying story too. Interesting.

I Am Sarawakiana said...

Thanks Bengbeng.

I think we are very blessed by having the Almanac...and it is a long lasting heritage. I am going to give three of my kids one each this year. This will make them think of Sarawak.

Haven't seen them around yet. May be in January.

Many Civil Servants get them free of charge and often they may have surplus. Perhaps we can have some kind of avenue there?

Daniel Yiek said...

what is a "cutch" factory? or is it a typo for Dutch? what year and what exactly is it? sarikei had Dutch priests from Mill Hill in the early days

I Am Sarawakiana said...

Dear Daniel

Cutch is made from boiling mangrove bark to produce a sticky substance which will help preserve fishing nets made from organic fibre. This was a global export item from Sarawak and Brunei in the 1920's.

There has been few writeup about cutch.

It would be interesting if you could get some old timers in Sarikei to talk about Cutch production. And I was told that the factory was in Selalang but I might have heard wrong. Thank you.

I Am Sarawakiana said...

The Cutch or Kutch factory at Selalang opened in the 1890's and closed down in 1959.

It was under Charles Brooke that interesting economic development took place.

I hope someone could shed some light on this interesting product.

Unknown said...

Sarawakaiana mentioned correctly that cutch is obtained from bark of mangrove trees. The cutch or tannin is used in the leather tanning industry. My uncle told me that before 2nd world war there were Malays collecting cutch from mangrove opposite Binatang (today Bintangor)

I Am Sarawakiana said...

Thanks Gaharuman for the update.

There was also a very substantial cutch industry in Brunei for many decades. The Bruneians sold their cutch to American companies.

woodosan said...

My grandfather George Wood ,an Englishman from Graves End, London,was the manager of the cutch factory in Selalang.He went back to Europe to fight for Britain against the Germans and was killed in action in Gallipolli, Turkey leaving behind a young son Wallace Wood who was a boarder in Sacred Heart, Sibu .He never got to see his father.His mother a Hokkien lady was from the Lim family in Sarikei who were involved in the sago industry and owned schooners sailing to Kuching with the product for export to Singapore. My grand dad's grave is still there in a military cemetery in Pink's farm, Gallipoli.When I was teaching in SMK Binatang(Bintagor) in 1972, I made a trip to Selalang, and was pleaseantly surprised to see the factory's chimmey still standing.With the Scouts and Guides we walked all to way from Bintagor to SMK Jakar, Sarikei in just 7 hours.Just last week I brought my two children Christne and Terence Wood family to the old Muslim cemetery in Sarikei to view their paternal grandmother's grave. Briefed them about their historical roots and links to Selalang and Sarikei

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