After visiting the Kampong Ayer (water villages) and having lunch at CBTL where Zaza met me, we then went to the Royal Regalia Museum, one of the must see places in the capital Bandar Seri Begawan (BSB).
The Royal Regalia Museum houses the “treasures” of the Sultan and the Sultanate of Brunei, ranging from personal collections of photos and memorabilias to gifts from various State leaders and governments. I guess you can say that just like in old times where the visiting envoys or monarchs or sultans/datus/rahas present exquisite gifts to the host, visiting State leaders or Ambassadors also present tokens from their countries as a gesture of “friendship” between countries. The collection included birthday gifts as well as anniversary gifts for the commemoration of the Sultan’s coronation.
It is not allowed to take photos in the actual museum where the gifts, photographs and antique are being displayed. (You are required to deposit your bag and shoes (I think) in a locker area. It’s quite secure.) Perhaps it’s because the value of the items in the Royal Regalia Museum would attract a lot of attention, from thieves and maybe even critics, if there are. The items on display are really very carefully chosen, showcasing craftsmanship from each and every country.
The items on display at the Regalia are made of precious metals such as gold, silver and bronze, as well as statues and carvings made from Ivory and Jade (if I remember correctly). There are also several miniature versions of monuments in Brunei and around the world. I remember seeing one item on display, a jewelry box made from Mother of Pearl, that was a token from then President GMA. Now that PNoy has visited Brunei too, I wonder what is the addition this time!
Another interesting showcase of the Royal Regalia is the crown and golden chariot that is used during royal parades in the streets of Brunei. There’s a massive golden chariot for the Sultan (perhaps including the royal family) which is preceded and followed by a full militia—in it’s very Moro/Sultan-ish sense.
The royal guards are holding intricately designed shields and spears. I think these days, it’s more for aesthetic purposes rather than actually providing protection to the royal family. Or, maybe these are really deadly in some way. I can’t really tell as I did not touch any of the stuff on display. Hihi
Anyway, being at the Royal Regalia Museum have, once again, showed me how rich the Sultanate of Brunei is. Also, how generous States, governments and yep, politicians, can be.
In any case, I think having the Royal Regalia is one way of showing the rich (literally and figuratively) cultural and artistic history not just of Negara Brunei Darussalam but of every corner of the world.