More Music of Borneo

Four more uploads to my youtube channel, this time of an instrument called a ‘sape’ from Borneo. CDs from Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia. Links below.

From CD: Traditional Music of Sarawak Ethnic Group

04 Sape Indu

07 Sape Kayan

From CD: The Olden Sound

04 Kayan Traditional Music II

05 Kayan Traditional Music III


Apologies, I don’t have more information about the artist or performance; the CD sleeves are in storage on a different continent.


About the sape:

“The most typical of Sarawak musical instruments, the sape, pronounced “sa-peh”, is a traditional lute of the Orang Ulu community or “upriver people” of central Borneo. It is traditionally used by the Kenyahs, Kayans and Kelabit tribes.

Carved from a bole of white wood which repels insects, the sape is a masterpiece of woodcarving. The carver, usually a musician, hollows out the body of the sape with similar tools used in boat-building to a length of about over a metre, and approximately 40cm wide.

Initially, the guitar-like instrument measured less than a metre, and had only two rattan strings and three frets. Today, however, it is common to find sapes with three, four or even five strings. The strings – slender wires used in fishing rods – are held by movable wood frets, and are tightened or loosened with wooden pegs.

The sape was once played solely during healing ceremonies within the rumah panjang (longhouses), but gradually became a social instrument that is used as a form of entertainment. The colourful jungle motifs that adorn the body of the sape mark this change in purpose.”


Buy one here:

Music links:

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