Mat Weavers Tale Documentary Premiered At Murum HEP Official Opening

MURUM, 27TH SEPTEMBER 2016, TUESDAY: The Mat Weavers Tale, a documentary that records the interwoven journey of three separate upriver communities in trying to break the Guinness World Record by weaving the longest rattan mat in the world was premiered at the official opening of the Murum Hydroelectric Plant (HEP) today.

The documentary also tells the story of how hydropower development has brought positive change to directly affected communities in these areas.

Four hundred weavers from Belaga and Baram successfully wove and combined a rattan mat to a length of 1128.272 metres in May this year, overtaking the previous Guinness World Record held by Sweden for the longest woven rug measuring at 797.51m long.

Filming started in February when the 400 Orang Ulu weavers from the Kayan, Kenyah, Buket, Penan and Lahanan communities began searching for rattan for the project.  The documentary also record villagers from the involved communities assisting the weavers in terms of harvesting, stripping and transporting the rattan. They spent four months weaving different sections of the mat and finally joined these sections together at Sungai Asap, Bakun Resettlement Scheme during the harvest time Pesta Ubek festival. 

Sarawak Energy’s Chairman Datuk Amar Abdul Hamed Sepawi  said, “As part of the efforts to proactively document and  communicate and provide a balanced view of the lives of the community after the completion of the hydro dams, Belaga women NGO - Peng Doh worked on this documentary with support from Sarawak Energy.  It shows how upstream communities who have been relocated due to hydropower projects enjoy access to development in a way that still preserves their cultural identity.”

The 1.5 hour documentary comes in three half hour episodes revolving around documenting on the women’s efforts and challenges to break the world record. A 5 minute trailer was shown during the opening ceremony and a 45-minute version was also premiered to the guests including the weavers from the project.  The different versions of the documentary will be broadcast on selected TV stations, and made available online.  

Peng Doh and Sarawak Energy have worked on domestic and handicraft development programmes for communities affected by the Murum HEP, particularly the Penan.  The idea of bringing together the communities from Sg. Asap, Murum and Baram through mat weaving came about after Peng Doh’s involvement in Belaga communities’ handicraft training which includes weaving.  The documentary was a natural extension of this partnership.  Orang Ulu communities are famous for their weaving skills and the Mat Weavers Tale shares their progress, aspirations, expectations, culture and heritage. 

All guests were given a copy of the 45 minute edition