The Bidayuh: Sadong – Bukar Part 2

Click here for  Part 1

The Bukar spread and created new villages out of the original 3 as agricultural land grew scarce, or when a group adopts a different new religion. Sometimes it is due to bad omens. All in all, there are 24 villages within the Bukar area, Serian.Munggu’ Babi: (Cold Hill) Bulit on the lower slope of Darud Sadong, then moved to the foot in 1877 by Sg. Ta’ee, renamed Kpg. Ta’ee.

Panchor: Oral tradition has it that Brunei officials saw the people collecting rainwater with bamboo shafts that drains into a large container, thus the name (?)

Tian: Originally settled at Munggu Mawang with a Ramin Ntangan (longhouse) before dismantling it (1946 – move to Munggu Mawang Ulu) and moving down to Sg. Tian in 1962.

Sekawan: A group of families became Catholics and decided to open their own village from the predominantly Anglican Tian.

Munggu’ Lalang: (Hill full of tall grass)

Bunga’: Lots of Bunga’ trees

Kajuh Barie Kuhas: Also known as Kajuh Bandung. Originally a Plaman before turning into a full village.

Kakeng: The river running nearby had a lot of deers inhabiting its vicinity, making a barking noise that sounded like ‘keng!’. Thus it was named Sg. Keng and later Kakeng.

Rituh: (Muddy) Wild boars running across the shallow Sg. Rituh, muddying its waters.

Rituh Labuan (Bahru): Lots of Buan trees.

Lanchang Sabai: Originally Lanchang SPG (Anglican). Name changed in 1948.

Lanchang Sijo: Originally Lanchang SDA.

Tarat Mawang: Named after the Minarad snake.

Tarat Melawi: Created as some families still wanted to practice paganism.

Tarat Sebala: (to stay together) They didn’t want to join Anglicanism.

Most places are named after rivers or mountains. Roman Catholicism, Anglicanism and Seventh Day Adventists are the main religions practiced. Paganism is virtually gone, with most traditional ceremonies and rituals a relic of the past.

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The term that is Bidayuh

The term Bidayuh (Bi= people of, Dayuh= land) encompasses the Bukar-Sadong, Jagoi-Singai, Salako-Lara and Biatah. I had a discussion one day with a friend who believes that the term Bidayuh is a misnomer.

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The culture and language is different from each of the groups in varying degrees (the Biatah sitting between the Bukar-Sadong and Jagoi-Singai). But the Bukar-Sadong cannot understand the Jagoi-Singai’s language, and vice versa. The bridge would be the Biatah. For the Salako-Lara, their language belongs to the Malayic branch, under the Austronesian languages, categorized with the Iban and Malay languages.

So how did this term came to be? Political reasons. The Salako Lara joined in the 1970s due to their location and minority (although in Kalimantan they have huge numbers). Even the term Bidayuh is a Bukar-Sadong word. It doesn’t mean anything in Jagoi-Singai (not sure about Biatah). Strength in numbers kan?

**Update (6/1/14): The Jagoi-Singai/Biatah equivalent to the term Bidayuh would be Bi-Doyoh in their own dialect.

The friend mentioned that the word Bidayuh could be applied to the Bukar Sadong, but the others should be called by their own names eg. Dayak Biatah, Dayak Jagoi, Dayak Salako etc. Over in Kalimantan, the term Bidayuh doesn’t exist as an umbrella term, instead the Dayaks (who are most like their Sarawakian Bidayuh counterparts) call themselves based on geography like Dayak Sekeyam, Dayak Sontas etc.

There has been calls by some quarters to create a single lingua franca among the “Bidayuhs” so as to turn it into formal education easier. The choice is usually Biatah as it shares commonality with the other 2 groups (exception being Salako-Lara). Maybe I’m being ethnocentric, but I do find making another group’s language as the titular language a bit hard. Plus the fact that we aren’t all ‘Bidayuh’ in the first place.

Any thoughts?

Borneo: People with tails?!!

The map above was created in the 1300s based on the coordinates given in Ptolemy’s Geographica, the most systematic account of the whole world known to man in the 2nd century. Ptolemy was a Roman citizen living in Egypt, a scientist who wrote on astronomy, geography and astrology. I looked up the map and tried to find Borneo (circled in red).

Instead of the dog-shaped island we have come to know and love, it’s actually a group of 3 islands. On the left, where Peninsular Malaysia should be, is called Aureus Chersonesus (Golden Peninsula). Oddly, Sumatra and Jawa is missing. The map was made based on accounts of sailors and explorers, so understandably it ain’t accurate.


Now, if you see the group of 3 islands on the right (supposed to be Borneo), there’s a note written in red. It reads,

“Islands of the Satyrs. Those who inhabit these islands are said to have tails, such as the ones they paint of satyrs.”

It is assumed that the 3 islands are actually at the area near the mouth of the Kapuas river, where it branches off so to the foreigner, it might look like 3 islands instead.

Anyway, I haven’t met an tailed people before in Borneo. By the way a satyr is a Greek mythological creature that has a human body with horns like a goat, but below the waist is like a goat, tails, hooves and all.

There are rumours of their existence. No more nowadays as people stop believing in such things. But the people of Kaltim calls them orang boentoet, the Ibans of Lundu orang tungkin panjai (Otto Steinmeyer), so maybe it is real.

Or maybe someone saw a Dayak wearing a chawat, the tail end of it looking like an actual tail. That or we just enjoy telling tall tales to foreigners. You know, like how we live on trees, and ride turtles to KL.

Although the satyrs are (in Greek mythology) followers of Dionysus, god of wine and ecstacy. Tuak anyone?