HISTORY OF BAU (GOLD TOWN)
Bau Town is on of the oldest districts in Sarawak and located about 33 kilometers from the capital city of Kuching. The old name of Bau is Mau San which is given by the Chinese miners. Back in the old days, Bau is rich with with mineral resources such as antimony and gold which lead to a mining activities in the area by the local people and the Chinese migrated from Sambas, Kalimantan.
On 1 May 1837, the Skrang Ibans invaded the Jagoi-Bratak Bidayuh Settlement on top of Bung(Peak) Bratak, killing over 2000 Jagoi-Bratak Bidayuh men and taking over 1000 women captive. Each year on 1 May, decendents of the massacre survivors hold Jagoi-Bratak Day on top of Bratak Peak in memory of their ancestors. A memorial stone was erected on 1 May 1988 to mark the day
Gold Miner’s Rebellion
During the 1857 Chinese Uprising, led by Liu Shan Bang, the Mau San miners and the Twelve Kongsi sparking a rebellion against the White Rajah. About 600 miners paddled down the Sarawak River to attack the Astana. The White Rajah’s Forces then defeated the miners in a series of counterattacks. In Jugan Siniawan, more than 100 miners were killed including Liu Shan Bang. It is said that the remaining miners retreated to Sambas, Kalimantan, while some had also hid in Ghost Cave along with their families and subsequently hunted down and killed.
How Bau Got Its Name
As a result of the 1857 conflict, the dead and decomposed bodies around Mau San produced bad smell for weeks. Because of the bad smell, it was believed that ‘Bau'(means smelly in Malay) got its name.
Another version is that the Chinese from Sambas, Kalimantan, established their settlement in Mau San, near the present Bau Town. It was centered around the goldmine. The Bidayuh living in the region started to trade with the Chinese and call the settlement as ‘Kupuo Baauh’ or New Village. To a non-Bidayuh it is hard to pronouce ‘Baauh’ and the name ended up becoming ‘Bau'(pronounced as ‘bow’).