Category Archives: Dayak

Dayak-Madurese ethnic war in Palangkaraya, Central of Borneo Indonesia

The riots in Sampit, only a series of riots by ethnic Madurese (Madura), since establishment of the Central Borneo, and more than 16 times of great upheaval happened, and also a small riot which sacrificed a lot of the people who are not from Madura.

Residents who are not Madura always succumb, so that the Madurese were so proud of such horrible acts and used it to terrorize them and to control joints economic, social, cultural and people of Central Borneo.

On the riverbank if Dayak tribes felt disturbed, they went  to the land, if on the land were given them trouble, they went to the hill, if in the hill they got a trouble, they went to the mountain, if in the mountain they were also disturbed, they went to the edge of the abyss. At the edge of the abyss they could not go anywhere so they defended themselves.


Dayak tribe
GNU Free Documentation License


Dayak tribes are treated unfairly and the lack of attention to the development of their regions. They were also accused of being a destroyer of forests and environment and labeled as retarded tribes and various pathetic titles which marked the life the Dayak people.

Dayak tribes have given the forest, soil and water for the lives of others, mining, wood, rattan, and natural result for making many rich people in Java, including Madurese (Madura) in East Java. They become a place to hold all of the suffering of other ethnic groups so that other people are satisfied and happy. Population people are increased in Central Borneo, while the Dayak people joined the Family Planning Program to support the government policy to reduce population growth. Madurese try to have as many children as possible and ensure the natural resources of Central Borneo will be available for those who are brave and have determination.

Triggers of the riots

  • Process of marginalization and poverty that occurred in Central of Borneo, both in terms of natural resource utilization, Regional Development injustice, and injustice to the protection the rights of life, added the inability of ethnic Madurese to tolerate almost any aspect in the life of the Dayak of Central of Borneo.
  • The existence of arrogance culture Madurese Tribes which underestimated the local culture of the Dayak, causing a variety of friction which was never entirely resolved both by society and government. Accumulated friction and feud sparked a mass brawl which culminated enlarged from time to time.
  • The tendency of the Madurese was bringing acquaintances, family, relatives and other communities of Madurese to go to the Central of Borneo. With the lack of education, criminal behavior and without any previous selection made the Central Borneo to get the Madurese which were not potential and many did the things that were not tolerant to almost all aspects of the Dayak’s life. Such as one of which was the rape of dayak girls.
  • The tendency of the tribe Madurese to protect their citizens which had done evil to the Dayak Tribes, causing the accumulation of hatred and became common problem among residents non Madurese in Central of Borneo.
  • Dayak Tribes of Central of Borneo had been very tolerant to the Madurese, so that in some Dayak families had received his son married to the Madurese.
  • The efforts from the figures that provoked the Madurese without knowing the original history of the riots.
  • There were also efforts from the Madurese figures which encouraged religious communities to disagree with one another, saying that the problems in the town of Sampit was extermination of Moslems.

Ethics conflict 2001

2001 was the peak of unrest among the ethnic Dayak and Madurese, which actually began in 1999. The early conflict occurred in 1999, precisely on 23 September evening, a fight which happened in a karaoke located on the border Tumbang Samba (village in the Middle Katingan, Katingan District, Central of Borneo Province, Indonesia), killing Tue Iba, one of Dayak Manyan who massacred by a group of Madurese. Dayak tribes who upset because of the innocent Iba Tue died then took a revenge by burning houses and livestock Madurese in Samba.

Preceded the incident, the burning extends to almost every village. At that time the government tried to evacuate 37 citizens of madura from the conflict area (Tumbang Samba) to prevent bigger victims. After that, the situation became more calm.

A year later, on October 6, 2000, there were beatings by a group of Madurese to the Dayak people, named Sendung, in an area 19 kilometers Katingan Regency location. Sendung died in tragic circumstances. Feeling angry, Dayak tribes eventually swept Madurese, the victim much larger than in 1999, the bus owned by Madurese burned while the passenger (Madurese) locked then slaughtered. Government’s efforts at that time was through the mediation Dayak ceremony to make the conflict was not sustainable.

Four months later, on February 18, 2001, large-scale riots happened. “The situation was already not stable, but people were still shocked. Sunday morning (February 18), house of Sehan and Dahur which are from Manyan Dayak tribe, besieged by maduranese. Sehan was retired from the military at that time. Siege ended with the burning of their homes and their families were also burned. Ten people were killed that morning.

The burning, massacre happened during the day. District Police and the TNI (Goverment Army) cooperated to  evacuate citizens Sampit to Palangkaraya. In the midst of a war that started raging, on Monday night at 10:25, the counterattack launched from the Dayak tribes. It lasted a full week, not counted  how many houses were on fire and the neck was cut off during the war occurred. “Up until a week already 18 times efforts to evacuate citizens Madura to Surabaya. Total number of displaced citizens reached 57 000 inhabitants.

The refugees were transported using the ship’s military and private shipping companies. They were transported to the island of Madurese. Until now still recorded in the memory citizens of Sampit about Mentaya river which filled with headless dead bodies, and of course the metallic smell of blood wafted up to a month after the riots. There is no definite calculation of the number of the victim.


Mentaya River at Sampit, Central Kalimantan, Indonesia
Author : Wibowo Djatmiko
Public domain


When the riots occurred, the headquarters of the Madurese concentrated in Sarigading and Hotel Rama Road. Reasonable if  largest dead bodies were later found in both places. Horrific atmosphere continued until one month after the riots, Sampit turned into a ghost town, the stench overpowering. Headless body lay along on every street corner. The bodies of riot victims eventually buried in mass graves in kilometer 13.8 Jenderal Sudirman Street.

Currently, those who are victims of violence slowly back to where they used to. I applaud the ability of the Madurese in terms of work, they start everything from zero again, their hard work without limits, if talk about feelings, small group of citizens Madurese worth to complain. Those who did not know anything must became the victim, stripped of all possessions, but at least  from the historical which was extremely painful, now they know how to build a good relationship with the local communities.


 A visit to the one of the Dayak villages and a little story about Sampit riot from Dayak elder


The Madurese martial art performance


The Dayak vs Madurese riot victims

MINIMUM AGE OF 18 for viewing is extremely advised!

The following video shows victims of hard fights. Even adult people are shocked by the shown victims and most of the victims are ensured dead by simple weapons in form of long knifes or swords (Traditional weapons)

The purpose of showing this video here is to provide evidence of facts that described above and of the cruelty in the conflict. We look at the facts of the video that shows virtually or really just one side of the victim which can be used as propaganda against the Dayak tribes.

We highly recommend to read this entire article carefully in order to understand the reasons the Dayak tribes to fight and defend themselves, even though the victims were also children and women still find it difficult to tolerate. We do not choose Dayak or Madurese in this conflict, but we would like to inform you about the facts without hiding cruelty or misbehavior of all sides.



 Sampit, Central Borneo

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Location Sampit on Central Borneo and Madura Island

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 :


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


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


Nabur Banjarmasin Machete


Borneo Island, the place where Dayak tribes live

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