The Baram Peace Park gets its name from the river that ties our communities together. The Baram River basin is home to four unique cultures. From art, music, dance, and storytelling to traditional knowledge, agricultural techniques, and cultural values, the Penan, Kenyah, Kelabit, and Saban communities who live within the Baram Peace Park each carry their own unique history, connected through time and space by the river.
Here, you can explore some of the cultural traditions that our communities take pride in and learn more about life along the Baram.
As one of the last remaining hunter-gatherer societies in the world, the Penan are renowned for their nomadic lifestyle, which centers on the forest and its resources. Penan culture traditionally possesses an extraordinary knowledge of the rainforest's flora and fauna, handed down through oral histories. Their hunting and foraging skills allow them to maintain a sustainable existence in the jungle, reflecting their deep respect for the land.
The short film Sunset over Selungo highlights the Penan community of Long Kerong
The documentary The Last Nomads of Borneo explores the dangers facing the Penan as one of the world's last semi-nomadic hunter-gatherer communities
The Kenyah community is renowned for their intricate wood carvings, with motifs depicting animals, plants, and human figures, which are a testament to their artistic skills and storytelling traditions. Music plays a significant role in Kenyah culture, with instruments like the string Sampe’ and bamboo Jatung Utang used in ceremonies and celebrations alongside harmonized singing.
The short film The Sound of Nature describes the search for the correlation of the sound of nature & the Kenyah instrument - Sampe’
Listen to a performace of the Jatan Utang bamboo xylophone
Known for their agricultural prowess, the Kelabit traditionally practiced wet rice cultivation, which has been the cornerstone of their subsistence for generations. Their sophisticated farming techniques have enabled them to thrive in the challenging terrain of the Bornean highlands. The Kelabit people take great pride in their unique cultural traditions, including their distinctive dances and music. These artistic expressions often depict elements of their daily lives, such as the planting and harvesting of rice, and serve as a way of preserving their heritage and storytelling.
Music artist Alena Murang is the world’s first female Sape’ performer. The Sape’ is a string instrument from the Ulu Baram often played alongside traditional dance
The Kelabit traditional Lakuh is an oral narrative tradition sung by women to depict scenes from daily life
The Saban are known for their intricate beadwork, which is an essential aspect of their cultural expression. Beadwork holds significant value, as it is used to adorn clothing and create traditional ornaments, often depicting symbols and patterns that convey history and values. The Saban community has a strong oral tradition, with storytelling playing a crucial role in preserving their cultural heritage. Through tales, myths, and legends, they pass down their history, wisdom, and spiritual beliefs. This rich storytelling tradition connects generations and reinforces strong community bonds.
Listen to a traditional Saban song performed on the Sape'
Discover the intricate beadwork and weaving involved in creating handicrafts