The Tatau people of the Kakus and Anap Rivers, Bintulu Division, Sarawak.

Anap River is situated between the Bintulu River, in the Bintulu Division and Balingian River in the Sibu Division of Sarawak.  In ancient times before the Kakus and its main tributary, the Anap stream, were populated by the Punans, Baketans, Ibans and Malays, only a tribe of people called the Tatau lived in these areas. The Tatau peoples were composed of several groups and were known as follows:

All those who called themselves Tatau Murung Data lived at Legan, a tributary of the Anap stream. Those who called themselves Tatau Murung Tugang lived at Bukit Mayu of the upper Buan stream between the headwaters of Penyarai and Tatau tributaries.

All those who called themselves Tatau Murung Legan lived between Buan and Gerugu streams, while those who called themselves Tatau Murung Muput lived along the Muput stream. All those who called themselves Tatau Murung Kakus lived along the Kakus river, while those who called themselves Tatau Murung Balio Iaved along a range of hills lying between the Rejang River of the Sibu Divisjon, and Anap and Kakus streams of the Bintulu Division.

At present about 90% of these Tataus had married the peoples of other races in the Anap sub-district such as the Punans, Baketans, lbans, Malays and more recently the Chinese. The twelve families who remain pure Tataus nowadays live together in a small longhouse on the Anap stream not far above the Tatau town. At present these Tataus still can give some informations regarding the old sites of their ancestors houses and the fruit trees which were planted by the people of their race in ancient days.

1. Tatau Murung Data

2. Tatau Murung Tugang

3. Tatau Murung Legan

4. Tatau Murung Muput

5. Tatau Murung Kakus

6. Tatau Murung Balio.



According to a story while a large group of the ancient Tataus lived at Lubok Sebubong on the bank of the Penyarai stream in the upper Kakus, a man went out to shoot birds which fed on the fruits of a kasai tree at Rantau Kemesu. When he reached the foot of that tree, he saw a huge dragon which raised its body straight up from the ground to eat the fruits on the tree top.   Seeing this, the hunter shot it with all his poisonous darts; but the dragon was not killed. So the hunter returned home to tell the people in his house that, if any of them heard a sound of a thing falling from a height to the ground, they should inform him immediately.

Eventually in the night, a certain man heard a loud sound of a thing falling from a height to the ground. On hearing this, he informed his friends of what he had heard. They were puzzled as they could not imagine what the thing was. One of them then passed the news to the hunter.

Hearing this, the later led many of his friends to the kasai tree, where he had shot the dragon with poisonous darts. As they came they saw the body of a huge reptile laying dead on the ground. The hunter and his friends sliced its meat to pieces for them to take home for food.

Early at dawn, while the women were cooking the meat of the reptile inside the bamboo hollow they heard the strange sounds of the meat as follows:

Lai prabung dai wo palian!

Let the roof and posts turn upside down!

These women ignored the strange sound of the reptiles meat which they heard inside the bamboo containers.  Instead of suspecting any danger they and their respective families ate the meat that morning.

Shortly after the morning meal was over, there appeared in the village a female stranger.  As she walked about she opened the mouth of all the people in the house to look for the remains of the dragons meat caught between their teeth. She discovered that only two orphans had not eaten the meat.

After she had found this, she told the orphans (a young man and his sister) to get out of the house instantly in order to escape from death. Obediently these orphans ran immediately away up the Bentai Bentayan (which was also) called the Manang Grai Stream.

Immediately after they had gone the longhouse building turned upside down which killed all the inhabitants. It was due to this disaster tbat the once large number of Tatau peoples of the Kakus river became sharply decreased in number. Later the female stranger who appeared in the house before the disaster exposed herself in the peoples dreams, that she was no other than the dead dragons wife.

Some days after the disaster two young men with their sister were making poisonous darts on the bank of the Kakus river. As they were sitting to do their work at the edge of the water, they noticed several lumps of fat floating in the river. Seeing these the older brother picked them up for food.

At mid-day meal he ate the cooked fat which he had mixed with the sago flour. But after he had eaten it, the skin of his body became extremely itchy. He scratched his skin with nails till his whole body was bleeding. These wounds gradually turned to become stripes, which resembled the stripes on the scales of the dragon.

On seeing the danger he grew worried and thought he would die due to the painful itching all over his body. So he threw away the fat to the river so that they were not to be eaten by his brother and sister. Shortly afterwards he died due to unbearable pain.

After he had died his brother and sister left that place. As they travelled they met the orphans who had escaped death from the longhouse disaster at Lubok Sabubong. After they met they lived together and grew to like each other very much. At last a male orphan married his friends sister while his sister married her brothers brother-in-law. They both begot childen who begot the ancestors of the Tatau people in the Kakus and Anap rivers in the Bintulu Division, Sarawak.

~ Sarawak Museum Journal, Benedict Sandin.


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