Google Doodle celebrates 102nd birthday of Sarawak-born folklorist

By John Isaac

TODAY’S Google Doodle celebrates the 102nd birthday of Sarawak-born folklorist and ethnographer Benedict Sandin, who served as the curator of the oldest museum in Borneo: the Sarawak Museum.

A member of the Iban – one of the largest Indigenous ethnic groups in what is now Malaysia–Sandin earned scholarly acclaim as one of the world’s foremost experts on the Iban and dedicated his life to the preservation of his native heritage.

Benedict Sandin was born Sandin anak Attat on this date in 1918 in Sarawak.

His father first introduced him to the poetic Iban language, which Sandin went on to master and champion.

In 1941, Sandin began work in the Sarawak civil service, and his gift for writing eventually led to an assignment as the editor of Pembrita—the first news publication in the Iban language.

His articles attracted the attention of the Sarawak Museum’s curator, who recruited him to join the museum’s staff in a special post in 1952.

Sandin – Picture from https://www.mbras.org.my/

Soon after, Sandin was accepted to a Unesco fellowship programme in New Zealand, through which he studied museum techniques and anthropology.

He returned home determined to chronicle the Iban history, culture, and language by absorbing and recording the wisdom of local genealogists, bards, and historians.

As a testament to Sandin’s invaluable ethnographic achievements, he was named the Curator of the Sarawak Museum and Government Ethnologist in 1966, a position he held for the better part of a decade.

Thank you, Benedict Sandin, for safeguarding and preserving Indigenous tradition and heritage for generations to come. – from Google

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