The Sultanate of Brunei is a small oil-rich country on the large Asian island of Borneo. An affluent and strict Islamic country, the nation is ruled by a wealthy sultan. Held in high esteem, the sultan has been gifted with many precious and wonderful items over the years. Many of these exquisite items are available for public viewing, housed within the interesting Royal Regalia Museum in the country’s capital city of Bandar Seri Begawan. One of the city’s top attractions, be sure not to miss this excellent museum with its opulent and decadent collections when visiting the Bruneian capital.
On entering the large domed building you will first need to deposit your bags and coats in a free cloakroom. Lockers are provided free of charge, and you keep the key yourself, ensuring complete security of your possessions. Do note that photos are not permitted in most parts of the museum, so will need to leave your camera behind too. There is no charge to enjoy the vast treasures contained within the Royal Regalia Museum.
As you wander through the different rooms you can feast your eyes on a wealth of objects given to the sultan. Well signed, plaques provide information about the various beautiful objects, including who gave them to the sultan and whether they mark any special occasion. You’ll see gifts given by heads of state, presidents, kings and queen, ambassadors, and other high-ranking officials. Thailand, India, Japan, the USA, the UK … numerous countries have honoured the Sultan of Brunei with expensive and lavish presents. Many items showcase the culture and traditions of the gifting country.
You’ll see delicate porcelain tea sets, ceremonial daggers, stunning wooden carvings, sparkling glass miniatures of world-famous landmarks, eye-catching paintings, jewel-encrusted ornaments, commemorative plates with inscribed messages and blessings, objects made from shining silver, ornate coffee tables, decorative glassware, intricate hand-made textiles, and more.
The inside of the museum boasts luxurious carpets and lots of gleaming marble. Journey through the life of the sultan and his family in the portrait gallery as you admire the colourful pictures that are accompanied by descriptive texts. There are numerous national treasures too, with ceremonial items, such as traditional outfits, crowns, staffs, flags, and weapons. You can see a replica of the sultan’s throne too. The Constitutional Gallery is great for history lovers and those who want to dig a bit more into the country’s psyche, with a collection of documents and international agreements.
A large side room on the ground floor houses an enormous chariot that was used during the sultan’s coronation in 1968. Row upon row of life-size figures clad in military attire stand proudly in front of the chariot. The main hall contains another chariot that was used in the 1992 silver jubilee street parade. Covered in gold leaf, it is a stunning sight to behold. This is the one area of the museum where you are allowed to take photographs, so make sure that you get your fill!
Plan to spend a couple of hours enjoying the various treasures and interesting artifacts at the Royal Regalia Museum.
/// Written by Sarah-Jane Williams, Thailand