Ubah Rumah

Welcoming Act

Learning the ‘Makan Sirih’ Dance, a traditional welcoming dance which involves the sharing of Sirih leaves with guests.

Makanlah sirih berpinanglah tidak

Berpinanglah tidak

pemerah bibir dulu zaman dahulu

makanlah sirih tuan berpinanglah tidak

berpinanglah tidak

pemerah bibir dulu zaman dahulu

sirih dimakan mengenyang tidak‍

mengenyanglah tidak

adatlah resah puak melayu

sirih dimakan mengenyang tidak

mengenyanglah tidak

adatlah resah puak melayu

makan sirih berpinanglah tidak

lambanglah adat pusaka melayu

Chew the betel leaf without the areca nut
Without the areca nut
A “lipstick” of the past

Chew the betel leaf, Sir, without the areca nut
Without the areca nut
A “lipstick” of the past

The betel leaf is chewed, it does not make one full
It does not make one full
A tradition of the Malay people

The betel leaf is chewed, it does not make one full
It does not make one full
A custom of the Malay people

Chew the betel leaf without the areca nut
A symbol of the Malay people's customs that have been passed down through the generations

Artists Gilles Massot and Alecia Neo share their travel logs of spaces and people they encountered in Bintan, each offering insights into local rituals and practices of hospitality and humility.

Makan Sirih

Passed down through centuries and generations, Makan Sirih is a Malay tradition in which betel leaves are chewed together with the areca nut (Pinang), as well as chalk and gambir extract. The betel leaf is a feminine symbol of respect and generosity, while the Pinang is a masculine symbol of noble descent, integrity and honesty. Used in hospitality rituals and sacred ceremonies in diverse cultures, the offering is used symbolically in opening up conversations, hosting honorable guests, marriages and for magic purposes. Chewing the betel leaves and the areca nut stains one’s lips and teeth red, hence acting as a natural lipstick.

The Tari Makan Sirih, or ‘betel-eating’ dance is one of the traditional dances or Riau melayu classical dance of Indonesia. The tepak sirih carried by the female dancers contains betel leaves, areca nut, chalk, gambir extract, tobacco and cloves are presented to guests during welcome ceremonies, representing the host’s desire to maintain or improve close relations with the guests.

Also see:
Special Thanks: Taufik Afdal, and students and the Head of English Education Department of Islamic College of Miftahul Ulum Tanjung Pinang

Being in Place

Out of Place

On the Move

Traces of Home

A selection of images from Gille Massot’s archive, taken during the early 2000s in different parts of the Riau islands.

Speaking with the Waters

Jong Maker Pak Zainudin

Leading his community of players at the Jong School in Bintan, Pak Zainudin shares his knowledge about Jong making. The practice of sailing these four-feet long miniature handcrafted boats emerged from the enduring interactions between the Malays and their maritime environments.

Pak Long

Born in Kawal, Pak Long offers his knowledge of mediating between earthly and spiritual realms, highlighting the importance of mutual respect and seeking permission.


The Living Studio on Nikoi Island, Bintan

A peek into Alecia’s studio in Singapore.

Contributing Artists

is the co-founder and Artist Lead at Brack. She develops long-term projects that involve collaborative partnerships with individuals and communities.

is a multidisciplinary artist and academic whose work based on the idea of “the space between things” aims to establish links and decipher the narratives existing between disciplines, people, occurrences and parts of the world.