Collection of Jong Sarat

I spent the whole day at Rizqun yesterday at the Mall in Gadong. No, I am not on leave. I was attending an executive forum on central banks’ reserve management. The speakers were from the World Bank Treasury. It was full of phrases like ‘strategic asset allocation’, ‘standard deviation of volatility’, ‘asset classes’ and ‘efficient frontiers’ – sounds interesting? Ya, if you are into it. Reminds me of finance classes when I did my MBA. At the end of the day, the message was that central banks should not maintain conservative investment policies but should add other asset classes as this will give a higher return at about the same risk level.

Anyway, spend a whole day listening to this, one needs to take a walk to rest one’s brain and being at the Mall, there lots of things to see, if not do. I drop in at Solitude, the Islamic Book specialist cum internet cafĂ© in Brunei. Solitude’s specialties are Arabic and Islamic books, not just the religious kind but also that of more world matters such as economics, legal, jurisprudence and management. However, Solitude has one corner which is always a favourite of mine – that of Brunei books. I think I have bought a number of Brunei books from there than anywhere else. It has many publications from the Museums Department and some of these go back to the 1970s and earlier. You cannot get them from anywhere else.

Yesterday, there was this book there which I was willing to pay the earth (well, not the earth but some indecent amount of money) which I last saw in an exhibition last July. The book contained the various patterns of Brunei’s traditional ‘jong sarat’ – the hand woven piece of cloth which male Bruneians would wear with their ‘baju melayu’. The book is like the equivalent of the encyclopedia of those designs and a primer to the designs and patterns.

I saw the book being used as a reference point in one exhibition and I asked whether I can buy it. They refused as they say they canot get hold of the book anymore. I know the author, an elderly lady, and asked my mother to ask her as she knows her quite well. My mother got a copy of it but my sister, an artist, also loved the book. The book was in full brilliant colour and showed the various patterns and designs of the woven jong sarat. Names like ‘bunga berkarang puncak mahligai’, ‘bunga bersusun cermin pualam’, ‘bunga berkembang indah terjurai’ and ‘arap gegati bunga api belitang rantai’ abound in the book. Prices of the woven jong sarat depends very much on the complexity of the design of the pattern which can range from $250 for a plain jong sarat to about $2,000 for the more complicated ones.

The book printed in 2003 entitled “Koleksi Kain Tenunan Tradisional Brunei” (Collection of Brunei’s Tradition Woven Cloth) is written by Hajah Kadariah who was the first teacher of handicraft at Brunei’s Handicraft Centre. She designed patterns and designs for the Royal Family, cabinet members, foreign service, UBD, the Yayasan Sultan and also used by Heads of States and Governments in APEC 2000. She has been awarded an ASEAN handicraft award in 1993. The book is bilingual and has a foreward written by HRH Princess Masna. Here is the interesting piece of information – Solitude sells the book for $2.00 for a hardcover and $1.00 for a paperback. Mind you, the book is in full blown colour – every single 158 page is in colour, all the designs are in colour. The photography is in colour. And for such a book, you pay such measly sums? I did not mistype the prices. In fact I asked whether they misprinted the price and the answer was ‘no’ that was the price. So, come to Solitude, get that book because the next time they reprint it, given the current stock must run out, it won’t be at that price anymore.


Anonymous said…
Thanks for the info Mr BR. I regret not stopping over at Solitude yesterday :) Now I have to make it one of my top priorities for today. Hehe..!

There is another book on kain tenunan. Wrote an entry about it here

Btw, before this, I didn't know that when we refer to kain 'jong sarat', it is actually a specific pattern when there are more like kain si lubang bangsi, kain si pugut and such :)
Anonymous said…
So that is what's in ur Solitude bag yesterday, and what a bargain! I might get one from Solitude later while we're still in Rizqun..
Zul-Fadly said…
I remember S@S wrote an entry about a book she purchased (as she mentioned above hehehehe) and she mentioned it was the last copy and I was devestated.

So I will make my way to Solitude later and get myself a copy ehehehe. Thanks for the info Mr BR.
Anonymous said…
SirT, more copies are available at the National Archive. That copy I bought was the last one at the museum. Hehe!

So go to the National Archive nowwwww.... :p
Anonymous said…
Mr BR, thanks for the tip re. the book - that gave me the motivation to head out to The Mall despite the obscene amount of traffic! Got myself a copy to find out more about the different types of kain tenunan.
Anonymous said…
P/S: Can't believe it's so underpriced for such a good quality book!
Bruneian said…
Mr. Br, Thanks for the info. I just hope they still have it on their bookshelves. I must get at least a copy
Anonymous said…
Dear Sir,

Please refer to your stating that Hajah Kadariah was responsible for designing the APEC 2000 shirts worn by the Head of States. I beg to differ. If I am not mistaken the late Pehin Orang Kaya Di Gadong Seri Diraja Haji Abdul Rahman designed that and possibly the Yayasan Foundation BOD's kain as well.

If memory serves me right, the APEC 2000 commentary can be found in the then programme/brief or commemorative issue.

Please do correct me if I am wrong :)
The paragraph that I described about Hajah Kadariah was taken from the preface from that book. The book incidentally is published by the Government Printing Department.

I cannot remember who was responsible for the APEC designs. But to me the distinction is between designing the overall design of the shirts and dresses which is designed by the late Pehin Rahman as opposed to the designing of the patterns embroided to the jong sarat which is a part of those shirts and dresses. To me, the latter is what is meant when the book described her designing for APEC.
Shenun said…
do u tink d book is still available TODAY? 2009? anywhere else if it is not in Solitude TODAY?
Rozan Yunos said…
Email me your address plus contact number and I will get my driver to bring you a copy. I have a couple of spare copies I can let go to people who really wanted it badly.
i sya. k said…
Do you know where I can get hold of this book? Many thanks!
Anonymous said…
hello Mr.BR.. out of curiosity did solitude went bankrupt? if yes.. what is the main reason for it? is it because of not many people know about that place? cause me myself didn get a chance to go there :(
Anonymous said…
is the books still available?

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