‘Tugu Lasuk’ sheds light on Dusun culture

Lyna Mohammad

The ‘Tugu Lasuk’ monument, which stands in the middle of Kampong Batang Mitus in the Tutong District, has drawn the attention of passersby especially those from the city, according to Acting Village Head of Kampong Batang Mitus Suhili bin Alas.

The monument depicts the features of a lasuk – a multipurpose basket made by the Dusun community in Brunei – particularly in Kampong Batang Mitus, which has its own uniqueness in terms of beauty and subtlety.

The acting village head said the lasuk symbolises an idea or concept of a harmonious life, cooperation and purity in elevating the values of a creative culture through handicrafts.

Suhili, who was the President of the Batang Mitus Association (BAMIT) and the secretary for the Kampong Batang Mitus/Kebia Village Consultative Council, said the idea of having a monument as the village’s landmark was put forward by the then Tutong District Officer Mutalif bin Haji Mohd Idris.

His inspiration came as the lasuk is a traditional household item originated and produced by the Dusun community.

He also hoped this can preserve the history of the Dusun culture for the future generations.

An aerial view of Pekan Tutong
Acting Village Head of Kampong Batang Mitus Suhili bin Alas stands next to the Tugu Lasuk monument in Kampong Batang Mitus. PHOTO: LYNA MOHAMAD

Tugu Lasuk was officially unveiled by Mutalif in conjunction with Brunei Darussalam’s 22nd National Day, and was included in the inaugural of the Belia Cinta Tanah Air Programme on February 17, 2006.

Materials to make a lasuk are only available from the jungle, where some would make it from different types of wood bark strips, while the basket frame is made of several types of bamboo or rattan.

Making of a lasuk requires the assistance from family members or neighbours, and the duration of process depends on the maker as it can be challenging and needs to be done with care. A big lasuk would take at least five days to complete and just under three days for the smaller ones.

These baskets have a narrow base which gradually widens at the mouth. The Dusun community used it to carry items when farming, tending to the rice field or collecting materials from the jungle.

Aside from this, it was also used by farmers to carry fruits to sell or collect harvested rice grains to be transferred to the durong (harvested rice grain storage).

“Although lasuk is still used by villagers on rare occasions and usually used more by the elderly, these days it has become more of a house decoration in the living room. Villagers now seldom use it when they farm, as the modern community has diverted to using modern items available in shops.

“If we can revive the traditional carry basket, the new generation will be able to learn about its uses, how it is made and the materials used to make it,” said Suhili.

Lasuk is also one of the handicraft products produced by Kampong Batang Mitus villagers for the ‘One Village, One Product’ (1K1P) initiative, along with weaved baskets and traditional floor mats.