Lan E Tuyang, Orang Ulu music from Borneo

Mathew Ngau Jau of Lan E Tuyang is a craftsman, a stone sculptor and a musician. I met him at the media and artists canteen and we shared lunch and a nice chat. He had just returned from a concert in Milano (yes!) where he said “it was so cold, it was a taxi-airport-hotel-concert-hotel-taxi-airport trip, not much else”. I commented that the Italian wine must have been a good warmer, to which he laughed loud.

Lan e tuyang performance at Kuching Rainforest Festival

His trio Lan E Tuyang is a traditional Kenyah (the ethnic group Orang Ulu) band performing exotic native Kenyah tunes, comprising two Sapes, a percussionist and a warrior dancer. Mathew plays the Sape, a quite popular string musical instrument amongst traditional indigenous people in Borneo, a three-stringed boat-shaped lute with colourful and ethnic patterns. The Sape produces haunting and mesmerizing sound and is in danger of being forgotten due to lack of interest among the younger generations. No wonder Mathew has been used as the icon of Rainforest World Music Festival.

Recently PETRONAS, as part of their continuous commitment to the preservation of Malaysia’s traditional arts and culture, has contributed to this preservation by donating RM 50,000 (12,500 US$) to Lan E Tuyang to assist in their continuous efforts to preserve, nurture and promote the Sape music through various educational and promotional efforts.

The music of the Kenyahs, hailing from the interiors of Borneo in the area along the Baram river, is very much part of the community and its everyday life. Mathew has been playing the Sape of Sarawak since he was little, and not only is he an accomplished musician on the instrument, but he also makes the sapes, paints, dances, and is an expert on the blowpipe. Lan E Tuyang is a proponent of the Sape music; they have performed in Germany, France, Australia and the US. They also teach Sape music to the younger generations in Kuching and elsewhere, promoting Malaysian traditional performing arts.

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Mathew kindly invited me to a future stay at his Lan E Tuyang Homestay, which provides a unique opportunity for all tourists and local alike to experience the way of life of the local people of Sarawak along with their indigenous and traditional cultures. Lan E Tuyang Homestay provides all visitors an opportunity to experience a place in truly authentic, comfortable and homely settings.

lan e tuyang homestay

lan e tuyang homestay

Lan E Tuyang Homestay is ready to showcase the cultures and traditions of the Orang Ulu and Bidayuh of Sarawak. Lan E Tuyang Homestay also takes all necessary measures to safeguard their cultures and traditions from the negative social and cultural impacts from visitors.

Contact Michael Ngau Jau at the Lan E Tuyang Homestay on +60 138203365 / +60 198749384 /

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About the author

Thomas has a university background in the UK and in Latin America, with studies in Languages and Humanities, Culture, Literature and Economics. He started his Asian experience as a publisher in Krabi in 2005. Thomas has been editing local newspapers and magazines in England, Spain and Thailand for more than fifteen years. He is currently working on several projects in Thailand and abroad. Apart from Thailand, Thomas has lived in Italy, England, Venezuela, Cuba, Spain and Bali. He spends most of his time in Asia. During the years Thomas has developed a great understanding of several Asian cultures and people. He is also working freelance, writing short travel stories and articles for travel magazines. Follow Thomas on

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