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Culture in Brunei
 
 
 

General

The culture is predominantly Malay, with heavy influences from Hinduism and Islam, but is seen as more conservative than Malaysia. The borrowings and derivations of Brunei culture from these two religions are due mainly to the country's historical links with the Hindu empire in the neighbouring regions of modern-day Indonesia and Malaysia.

The culture is also influenced by the demographics of the country: two-thirds of the population are Malay, and the remainder consists of Chinese, Indians and indigenous Malays such as Dayaks, Dusuns and Kedazans.

If Malay traditions are Brunei’s cultural root, then Islam is its heart. The nation’s Malay Islamic Monarchy is a uniquely Bruneian blend combining the best of Malay culture with the teachings of Islam and a mutual respect between ruler and subjects.

Arts

Brunei is richly endowed with a cultural heritage that the government and the people have worked tirelessly to maintain. The nation’s Arts and Handicraft Centre, for example, is a living testimony to the preservation and the proliferation of the arts and crafts for which Brunei was once renowned, including boat making, silversmithing, bronze tooling, weaving and basketry. Visitors will also find Malay weaponry, wood carvings, traditional games, traditional musical instruments, silat (the traditional art of self defence) and decorative items for women to be some of Brunei’s most unique cultural offerings.

The introduction of Islam, of course, also dramatically changed Brunei’s cultural landscape, adding its own distinct artistic forms. The nation’s mosques and other Islamic sites of importance are all works of art in themselves, and many contain some of the most striking examples of Islamic arts that can be found outside the Arab world. Examples include gilded Holy Korans, ceremonial items and the intricate mosaics that adorn several monuments throughout the nation’s four districts.

Traditional Music

There is a wide array of native folk music and dance. Adai-adai is a group work song sung by fisherpeople while they fished. Another folk dance is the Benari, or Joget Baju Putih, performed during numerous festivals. It is usually performed by three men and three women.


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