Lest We Forget

DOWN MEMORY LANE WITH BORNEO BULLETIN ARCHIVES

Compiled by Zaleha Jalil

Legend of the Crocodile lives on!

Malai Hassan Othman

April 7, 1990 – The legend of the White Crocodile of Brunei is a story that has grown in the telling.

Now the legend has been “immortalised” by the creative staff of the Brunei Museum.

And like the story, the model croc is growing all the time.

The museum’s new showpiece is 51 feet long, four feet high and 16 feet wide. It’s being kept in the museum building for a month-long exhibition commemorating the museum’s silver jubilee anniversary.

But after the exhibition ends, it will be moved outside and staff plan to extend the monster to double its size.

The finished product: Plan is to increase its size

“We can’t make it any bigger at the moment because the room its is in is too small,” Brunei Museum curator Haji Mohd Jaya bin Haji Said said.

As it is, the staff had to cut the croc into seven pieces to take it into the room.

The staff are proud of their masterpiece which is certainly attracting the attention of the museum’s many visitors.

The White Crocodile holds a special place in Brunei legend. The legend began with a group of Kampong Ayer lads a very long time ago.

The boys were arguing about the strength of the mythical monster. Some said the Brunei crocodile was the strongest. Others argued that a crocodile in Sungai Kinabatangan, Sabah, was much bigger and stronger than the White Croc.

The argument got heated and looked unlikely to end when there was a loud gurgling sound and a wave of water broke the smooth flow of the Brunei River.

There was the White Crocodile, before their eyes! All the children fled, except one lad who had faith in the crocodile.

The giant reptile invited him to witness a duel between him and his rival in Sungai Kinabatangan. Before the titanic clash began, the White Croc told the boy to look at the water in the river. If it turned red, it meant he, the White Croc, had won. If it turned white, he had lost. The duel began with both crocs threshing furiously as the enthralled youngster watched from the river bank.

The youngster’s heart sank as the turbulence subsided and the water turned white. But his disappointment turned to joy when the water gradually reddened. The boy returned to Kampong Ayer in triumph, able to prove the White Croc was the strongest

Sunken treasures in Brunei

Achong Tanjong & Suriani Garip

April 1, 2000 – The Brunei Shipwreck, on display at the Sunken Treasure Exhibition, is one of the most amazing discoveries made in Brunei Darussalam in recent times.

The shipwreck was discovered on May 24 1997 by Elf Petroleum Asia BV.

All archaeologists would have agreed that the significance of the history of this discovery is very important.

The artefacts of the discovery could be used for research and to comprehend Brunei’s past history vividly.

It reveals and poses many questions as well as shows the strength of Brunei in the past in terms of political, social and economic power and magnitude.

Ceramics dating back 500 years, pointing to Brunei’s long ago maritime trade with China

According to the Brunei Museum, the shipwreck was found on the seabed approximately 32 nautical miles off the coast of Brunei, at a depth of 62 metres, west northwest of the Champion Oilfield.

The shipwreck was discovered by Elf Petroleum Asia BV while they were studying the seabed to lay a pipeline from Maharaja Lela and Jamalul Alam Oilfields to Lumut.

The first archaeological research or recovery was made in October 1997 and the main mission was to recover selected samples in order to determine the date and source.

The recovery managed to accumulate 150 samples consisting of various ceramics, jars, iron bars and beads.

These artefacts were known to originate from various countries mainly from China and the Indo-Chinese states like Vietnam as well as Thailand (Siam).

It is learnt that the wreck has remained in pristine underwater for more than 500 years dating back to the 15th -16th centuries AD. In this period, Brunei was experiencing its glory years of trade and was believed to have a large empire stretching as far as the Philippines.

These finding in fact prompted the archaeologists to probe further the content hidden in this ancient shipwreck.

Finally, the first excavation was carried out on July 2, 1998. All artefacts were treated with the utmost care and recorded for future reference.