Traditional Brunei Dance: Tamarok

Video on Tamaruk Dance

Nurhamiza Hj Roslan

Saturday, December 13, 2014

IN THE old days, elaborate thanksgiving events were organised as part of the Dusun people’s old customs and tradition. A part of it lives on in cultural shows: the Tamarok dance.

The Tamarok was associated with beliefs in animism and was organised as a means of giving thanks following the old beliefs of the Dusun.

Nowadays, the Tamarok is still practiced by those who still follow the old beliefs, says Newas Ukoi, owner and manager of Bintudoh Green Spring Resort in Kampung Lamunin, Tutong.

People can a have a glimpse into the Tamarok through the dance that is occasionally performed as a cultural show.

The Tamarok is performed by female dancers, and what this signifies, Newas says, is that in the old days the female Dusun members carried out the activities of giving thanks. He says the belian or what were then regarded as priestesses of the Dusun were involved in the dances and making offerings.

As a cultural show, the Tamarok dance is a window to an old world where the belian held ranks and their place in the hierarchy (follower, leader or higher) spoke of what activities they were supposed to perform during thanksgiving.

Newas says Tamarok events varied in scale depending on the occasion. An example of a big Tamarok event would be the Tamarok Padi, normally held after the paddy harvest season, he adds. A Tamarok event can last up two days. The activities involved include dancing and the making of food offerings such as rice, fruits and coconut oil.

Newas says in one Tamarok event there used to be many dances performed. Some of these were the Ibang-Ibang, Ancayau, Raja Lalu and Ngajat.

The movements to the Temarok dance are not too complicated but it does require practice and there is no fixed number of dancers during a performance, says Newas. Among the musical instruments played to accompany a dance is the dombak (goblet drum), canang (small gong), gulingtangan, gandang and gong.

Today, any dance that is performed as part of the Tamarok event is given the general name Tamarok Dance and when performed in public it mainly functions as a cultural show.

When a Tamarok dance is performed, the dancers normally wear a black top with gold ribbon lining at the edges of the sleeves and a red skirt. Accessories include a hand-held fan and a cloth headband called an asyik. Dancers also wear a red selendang (a stretch of cloth worn on one shoulder).

Newas explains that the red and black attire was symbolic of the clothes that the deities were believed to have worn. This attire, however, is not to be worn by anyone except for instances when a Tamarok event is held.

The Brunei Times


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