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Sunday, May 4, 2014

OF LOST HEADS, SEA DYAK DAYS


There are two major tribes of Dyak in Borneo. Sea Dyaks, nowadays known as Iban, Land Dyaks as Bidayuh. In the days of yore they were fierce headhunters until the Brookes put a stop to their age old  survival warfare.

I once asked a modern Bidayuh girl, my former staff why they were in the habit of taking heads. "They chopped our heads so we have to chop their heads." It was a vicious cycle.

The Sea Dyaks regularly ply from  upriver to the sea looking for loot - piracy and heads. They were marauders of the sea coasts of Borneo, hence they are called thus.

The Land Dyaks whose number are much less remain much on land occupied with agriculture around the Bau area south of Kuching.

Head hunting expedition.

Who's afraid of Chief Panau?

A gang of headhunters.

Maias, mayas or orang utan.

Their deadly hand carved mandaus. The more heads chopped off the more decorative it is.

Looking for special heirloom jars (tajaus) brought by Chinese traders..

Panga or head-house where the bachelors have to sleep with the collection of smoked heads of their enemies.


Iban (Sea Dayak)


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* A verse of pengap sung during gawai - Ulop Ensilup Remang (The Star) p86

            That’s the territory of Ulop Ensilup Remang Maling Jemeling Bintang,
            Are you grandfather going with us to the feast?
            Are you grandfather joing us in the celebration?
            I am not going,
Until the end of September,
            Then I view the cleared farmlands,
            Which are burnt last,
            Until the beginning of October,
            Then I go down,
            To look at the clumps of the growing padi.
           
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