Maloh is a term widely known in Sarawak and in much of Kalimantan Barat. They are known as the Urakng Banuak’a (people of the land), divided into a few groups;
~ Tamanbaloh who live in Batang Embaloh
~ Tamankapuas who live in Putussibau and Medala
~ Kalis who live by the Kalis River
~ Dayak Lau’-Palin of Manday River.
Tamanbaloh, Tamankapuas, Kalis and Dayak Lau’ Palin are commonly used names in Kalimantan Barat, but the general term Maloh has been used by the Dayaks of Sarawak to describe these people.
Those “Maloh” who travel far all the way to Sekadau and cannot return back (or decide not) to their village of origin are called Tamansesat (lost Taman people), or Tamansekado. However, they accept the term “Maloh” from outsiders. Today, the Maloh can be found in some longhouses in Sarawak, especially Lubok Antu, Katibas River and Kapit.
The Maloh are good craftsman and traders. They became trading middlemen between Malays and other Dayaks. At one time, “Maloh” blacksmiths frequently crossed over into Sarawak from the “Maloh” heartland in the Upper Kapuas. They would usually stay in Iban longhouses, making silver and copper adornments and also beaded clothes made from small cowrie shells. In return,they received food and accommodation while working, and final payment in hulled rice or woven pua by the Iban. With the rice and pua, they exchange these items with the Malay Sultanate for gongs and other important items. Some Malohs settled down in the Iban and Kayan longhouses in Sarawak.
Linguistically, the Maloh language falls under the Benuaka category or Tamanic, which is very different from their Iban, Kantuq and Kayan neighbours.
The “Maloh also has a stratified society. They are divided into the Samagat (nobility), mostly the headman or medical/ritual expert, the Pabiring (middle class) traders, the Banua (commoners) and Pangkam (slave). Maloh villages are called Banua and may consist of single longhouse called Sau.