Brunei’s culture mainly derived from the Old Malay World, a territory which covered the Malay Archipelago. Brunei’s culture is therefore deeply rooted in its Malay origins, which are reflected in the nation’s language, architecture, ceremonies, and customs governing daily life. Though various foreign civilisations have played a role in forming Brunei’s rich history, the traditions of the Old Malay World have left an indelible mark on the culture of modern Brunei.
Today, Bruneians are predominantly Malay, though significant Chinese, Indian and indigenous Bornean populations add to the cultural makeup of Brunei. Brunei’s blend of cultures, customs, beliefs and customs is therefore very similar to that of Malaysia. The nation’s official language is Malay, but English is widely spoken by most of the population, and most signs in the country are written in Roman script.
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. This national philosophy is aimed at forging a stronger sense of identity as well as fostering unity and stability, and it forms the backbone of Bruneian cultural identity.
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.
One will find that Bruneian fare generally exudes a unique flavour of cultural fusion due to the influence of the various nations that have left their mark on Brunei’s culture. Arab, Indian and Chinese traders, European explorers and, of course, Malay and indigenous Bornean peoples have each introduced their own cooking styles and ingredients, adding to the masterful fusion that makes Brunei’s cuisine memorable.
Brunei is richly endowed with a cultural heritage that the government and the people have worked tirelessly to maintain. The nation‚ 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‚ most unique cultural offerings.
The introduction of Islam, of course, also dramatically changed Brunei‚ cultural landscape, adding its own distinct artistic forms. The nation‚Äôs 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‚ four districts.
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.
If Malay traditions are Brunei‚ cultural root, then Islam is its heart. The nation‚ 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.
Epicures will enjoy the vast array of cuisine that Brunei offers, ranging from home-cooked local specialties to the finest of international cuisines.
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