Dayak People in Borneo Island Indonesia

Dayak word comes from the word “Power”, which means upstream, to mention the people who live in inland. Meaning of the “Dayak” word is still much argued, many opinions about the definition of Dayak, among others, could mean inland, people, people who live in the river and some people claim that this term refers to some of the characteristics of the Dayak people, strong, brave, courageous and tenacious.

Dayak tribes are the original tribes of Borneo, which live in groups in inland, mountain, and etc. Dayak word is actually given by the Malays which came to Borneo, but after the Malays of Sumatra and the Malay Peninsula came, also with arrival of the Bugis, Makassar and Java in the reign of the Majapahit Kingdom, they were increasingly retreated into the forest.

 

Dayak Chief
Source Tropenmuseum

 

There are various opinions about the origin of the Dayak people, but until now no truly satisfactory. However, the generally accepted opinion is that the Dayak is one of the largest and oldest native groups that inhabit the island of Borneo. Opinions about the natives is based on the theory of migration to Borneo. Based on that opinion, it is believed that the ancestors of the Dayak came from South China, as stated by Mikhail Coomans (1987,3).

All the Dayak tribes included the group that migrated massively from Asian mainland. They were descendants of immigrants who came from the place which is now called Yunnan in Southern China. From that place, a small group wandered through the peninsula of Indho China and Malaysia to enter the islands in Indonesia, In addition, there may be those who choose another path, through Hainan, Taiwan and Philippines. Displacement was not so difficult, because at the time of glacial (ice age) sea level extremely decreased (low tide), so with little boats, they can crossed the waters which separated the islands.

Migration theory as well answer the question: why the Dayak tribes have different properties, in the language and the characteristics of their culture.

The largest tribe in Indonesia is the Dayak tribes, that occupied the largest island in Indonesia, Borneo (Kalimantan).
Native tribes of Borneo island have a strong cultures and customs and distinctive and quite famous in the world. Dayak tribes scattered settlements on the head waters of the river where the river is the main transportation routes for them to perform a variety of mobility in everyday life such as work to the fields where their tribes are usually far from human habitation or to trade in farm activities.

In 1977-1978, the Asian continent and the island of Borneo which part of the archipelago were still together, allowing the Mongoloid race from asia to wander through the land, and reached by crossing  the mountains of Borneo which is now called the mountains of “Muller-Schwaner”.

They had spread from upstream to downstream and then inhabited the coast of  Borneo Island. Dayak peoples consist of several tribes that each has different characteristics and behavior.

Most of the Dayak tribes converted to Islam and no longer recognizes themselves as the Dayak, but call themselves as the Malays or the Banjar, while the others who rejected the religion of Islam back down the river, into the inland of Central Kalimantan, lived in areas of Wood Tangi, Amuntai, Margasari, Watang Amandit, Labuan and Watang Balangan Lawas. Some were kept pressed into the jungle. Dayak people followers of Islam are mostly located in the South and some in Kotawaringin. One of the famous Sultan of the Sultanate of Banjar Gastric Mangkurat (Kingdom).

Not only of the archipelago, other nations also came to Borneo. The Chinese nation is estimated to begin coming to Borneo in the Ming Dynasty in 1368-1643. From the manuscript lettered kanji mentioned that the first cities visited was Banjarmasin. But it remained unclear whether the Chinese came in the era Bajarmasin (under the hegemony of Majapahit) or in the Islamic era.

The arrival of the Chinese nation, did not result in Dayak population movement, and had no direct influence, because they only traded, especially with the kingdom of  Banjar in Banjarmasin. They did not directly trade with the Dayak people. Relics of the Chinese nation was saved by some Dayak tribes like malawen dishes, pots (jars) and ceramic equipment.

Customs of Dayak tribes still preserved until this day, and the supernatural world of Dayak tribes is still going strong. This custom is one of the wealth culture owned by the Indonesian people.

Currently, Dayak tribes are divided into 6 major families, namely: Kenyah family, Ot Danum Family ( consist of all the Dayak tribe, in Central Kalimantan, South Kalimantan, East Kalimantan, West Kalimantan in the south and southeast), Iban Family, Murut family, Klemantan Family (one of the family of Dayak tribes in West Kalimantan, Sarawak East Malaysia, and Punan Family.

 

Dayak groups (Community)

 

This video was made by one guy from the Dayak tribe, which describes some Dayak tribes in Borneo

 

 

The sixth family were divided again to approximately 405 sub-tribes. Although hundreds  they have the same cultural characteristics which typical. These characteristics are factors among a sub-tribe in Borneo that can be inserted into the Dayak groups. These characteristics are : the long house, the material culture such as pottery, saber, chopsticks beliong (ax Dayak), view of nature, livelihoods (cultivation system) and the art of dance.

 

 

Religion of Dayak

Government of Indonesia set every citizen must embrace one of six official religions: Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Hinduism.

Dayak tribes embrace the ancestor religion which was named Kaharingan which has guidelines that guide their lives for the better. Kaharingan religious practices differ from tribes to tribes.

Since the first century Hindu religion began to enter Borneo by discovery heritage Hindu religion in Amuntai, South Kalimantan and in the 4th century Borneo society entered an era of history characterized by the discovery inscriptions heritage from Hindu kingdom of Kutai in East Kalimantan and the discovery of the statues Buddha heritage from  ancient kingdom of Brunei.

This showed influence from Hindu-Buddhist and assimilation with the culture of India which marked the emergence of the first multiethnic communities in Kalimantan. With the spread of Islam since the 7th century peaked in the early 16th century, the kingdoms of the Hindu converted to Islam and marked the extinction of the followers of Hinduism and Buddhism in Kalimantan. Since then began to appear Malay customary law / Banjar which partly influenced by Islamic religious law.

 

Barito Muslim Dayak communities that are recognized as a tribe on the river Barito Bakumpai past.
Sumber : Tropenmuseum

 

Supranatural world


The world’s Supranatural for the Dayak tribe has existed since ancient times and was the hallmark of Dayak culture. Because of this supernatural, the foreigners called Dayak as cannibals but in fact Dayak tribes are very peace-loving tribes, as long as they are not harassed and persecuted unjustly. Many kinds of supernatural powers of Dayak, for example “Manajah Antang”.
Manajah Antang, is the Dayak way to look for clues such as looking for the presence of the enemy which is hard to find. From the ancestors by “Antang birds” media, wherever the enemy which on the search would be found.

Red Bowl

Red bowl is the Dayak tribe unity media. Red bowl will be circulated if the the Dayak people feel their sovereignty in grave danger. “Commander” usually announced standby signal or war in the form of red bowl, which circulated from village to village rapidly. From the daily looks a lot of people probably do not know who the commander of the the Dayak tribes. The man probably just an ordinary person, but he has extraordinary supernatural powers.

Red bowl not carelessly distributed. Previously the commander must make a custom event to know when the time is right to start a war. In a custom event, the spirits of the ancestors will be taken possession of the commander, and if he was calling out the spirit of ancestors to ask for help, the the Dayak people who hear it will be also have the power like their commander. Usually people that mentally not stable, can be sick or crazy when they hear the scream.

Red bowl is made from bamboo terrace (some say is made from clay) which is designed in a circular shape. To accompany these bowls are also provided other equipment such as yams red jerangau (Acorus Calamus) which symbolizes the courage (some say could be replaced with yellow rice), red chicken feathers to fly, the torch from bamboo for torchlight (some say could be replaced with struck a match), sago palm leaves (Metroxylon sagus) for shelter and straps from leather kepuak knot as a symbol of unity. Equipment is packed in a bowl and covered with red cloth.

According to stories passed down through generations, red bowl first circulated when once war against Japan. Then occur again when the expulsion of Chinese from the Dayak areas in 1967. Dayak expulsion to the Chinese people was not inter-ethnic war, but because a lot of political content, which at that time there was confrontation between Indonesia and Malaysia.

 

Dayaks in Their War Dress with some weapons too
Source : The Illustrated London News
Author : F. Boyle
Public domain

 

Several types of weapons used by the Dayak tribes

 

Dayak machete
Source : www.trocadero.com

 

machetes used by the Dayak (Bidayuh, Kayan, Kelabit, Kenyah, Iban, Ngaju, Penan and Punan) in Kalimantan
Source : 2.bp.blogspot.com

 

Mandau (Sword hilt with of bone, and small sheath knife)
Source : Tropenmuseum
Author : Tropenmuseum

 

Nabur Banjarmasin Machete
sources www.oriental-arms.co.il

 

Borneo Island, the place where Dayak tribes live


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