Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Unique Beauty: The melanau's forehead flattening custom (Melipih Beleang)

12:00 AM

Moon-face( round face) is most admired beauty feature by the melanaus-Photo by Pawan Ako 

Beauty is a characteristic of a person, animal, place, object, or idea that provides a perceptual experience of pleasure, meaning, or satisfaction. The melanau of sarawak wanted their children to grow up "moon- faced" i.e. having a round face. Hence the melanaus of mukah, oya and bintulu traditionally had the curious custom of flattening foreheads of their infants also known as "melipih beleang". This is considered to be a desired beauty feature.

The flattening process took place within the first month after birth. An apparatus known as "Tadal" or "Ja" is utilized for this purpose. A "Tadal"(Dalat) or "Jak"(Mukah) or "Apih"(Medong) consists of a stout flat wooden bar about 24 cm long and 9 cm wide. On the middle part of the bar is fastened with a soft pad which applied to the infants' forehead. A strap made of soft cloth in a T-Shape and is attached with a pair of strings which pass through holes at both end of the bar. The strings are brought together on the front of the bar and pass through the centre of a copper coin or a wooden disc at the middle of the bar.

Melanau Tadal
Picture: "Tadal"(Dalat), "Jak" (Mukah), "Apih" (Medong)- Forehead flattening apparatus

The apparatus is applied while the child is asleep and is at once relaxes if the child waken up or cries. The degree of pressure is gradually applied by twisting the coin round and round. The application normally last for 15 minutes on each occasion but in successive days. Depending on the pressure, 10 to 20 application seems to suffice to bring about the desired effect of a moon-like face which is most admired
Source- Edmund Kurui, Tuton Kaboy, Sarawak Museum Journal n Vol XL No. 61.

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  1. Eh..I never knew that my race loved round face.. XD

  2. this is a very unique custom indeed. thay say that round face would look beautiful with Serebang ( a golden tiara).



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