Dayung (priestess) of the Serian Bidayuh

~ From Kpg. Mentu Tapu (1960) during the Gawai Bangun


The Bidayuh of Serian: Sambat group

One of the 15 subgroups under the Bukar-Sadong Bidayuh of Serian, Samarahan is the Sambat group. The Sambats are one of the smaller groups among the Bidayuh.

Like the rest, they came from Tembawang Tampun, and passed through Tembawang Rutoi (the main original Bidayuh settlement for all Bidayuh Bukar-Sadong between the border of Sarawak-Kalimantan), settling at Rawan Mountain. Later on they moved to Tembawang Sambat, between Bukit Bukeng and Mapu Kejabu in the 1600s. They began calling themselves the Sambat Bidayuh. In 1820s, they abandoned the settlement and began migrating to find new ground.

Bunan Mawang – abandoned in 1964.

Terbat Mawang – Named after Sg. Terbat.

Tong Nibong – Named after Lubok Nibong.

Bunan Gega – Gega means bamboo bridge. Moved out after their conversion to Roman Catholicism because the pagan elders of Bunan Mawang didn’t want to offend their gods.

Bunan Punok – Moved due to the Indonesian Confrontation. The last group from Bunan Mawang.

Mapu Mawang – Legend has it that their ancestors came out of a hole in the ground. The hole still can be seen in the village.

Mapu Kejabu – Named after Sg. Kejabu. Moved out after their conversion to Roman Catholicism because the pagan elders of Bunan Mawang didn’t want to offend their gods.

The Bidayuh of Serian: The Gahat Semabang group

One of the 15 subgroups under the Bukar-Sadong Bidayuh of Serian, Samarahan is the Gahat/Semabang group.

Legend has it that Datu Merpati cut a roundstone at Ulu Sg. Robin, sharing the same legend as the Taup group.

The early Bidayuh migrated from Tembawang Tampun and moved to Semabang at Ulu Sg. Robin, Ulu Sadong (1500s). In 1790s, Sanggau pirates came and attacked the village. Before the attack, the Bigahat escaped to Bung Nyarau, then Red Tak Sebintin, then to Kuala Gahat and finally at Gahat Semabang where they finally settled down.

Sebintin – originally called Tembawang Sebintin Lama (1850s). Later on they moved to Mawang Tapang Ujan (1890s), Mawang Entuku (1905) before finally settling down at the current site.

Paon Rimu – They split with the group that went to Sebintin from Mawang Entuku. Means citrus tree.

Rayang – From the word ‘rayu’, saliva.

Lobang Batu Mawang – Sita-uh (1830s), Bung Miruwat (1850s), Mawang Gumbang (1880s), Mawang Tahas (1930s) and finally at the current site in 1976.

Batu Keron – Means the soil that isn’t good for paddy planting. In 1968 Batu Keron was abandoned and they moved, renaming it Batu Bedang.

Pulau Piranuk – Means mousedeer.

Sebangkoi – Bangkoi trees.

Seroban – Enkajuh Upi, Mawang Anden, Pulau Kranji Ichuk, Mawang Roban (attack by Simanggang Ibans), Lubok Pisau (cholera epidemic), Seroban, Lubok Jabam (unknown sickness), Pondok, and back to Seroban in 1958.

Payau Achau – Means deer. Moved due to Indonesian Confrontation.

Payau Berus – Moved due to Indonesian Confrontation.

The Bidayuh Sadong: Sumpas subgroup

The Sumpas subgroup is among the biggest group currently residing in Serian. Folklore passed down through generations says that their ancestors were devils/spirits who eventually became human with the assistance of Datu Merpati (who appears in many legends as the forefather – together with Padat a Sungkung Dayak – of the Bidayuhs in Serian, a man some claim to have supernatural powers, of Java origin). In Mentong Mawang, it was said their ancestors came out of a hole in the ground, while those of Bugu Mawang claim ancestry from a tree trunk.

The migration began from Bugau/Tembawang Tampun, making its was to Tembawang Sumpas in the 1500s via Tembawang Rutoi. From there it spread into 4 main villages, Mentong Mawang, Bugu Mawang, Bedup Mawang and Koran Mawang.

In the 1820s, there happened a dispute between Koran Mawang and Riih Mawang. The warriors of Riih went and cut off the head of Buk Lungor of Koran Mawang while he was working in the paddy fields. This angered the people of Koran who went and counter attacked. Again, Riih warriors decided to fight back and chose Mayom to be their leader. Mayom was said to have a sword as big as a banana tree. During the fight, he swung his sword so hard it got stuck in the root of the Bandir tree and was thus killed by the Korans. His head was then taken and the dispute ended.


Mentong Mawang: River name, abandoned in 1970.

Mentong Mubok: Kubuk vegetable

Bugu Mawang: It’s people claim to be the original inhabitants of Serian.

Diang Ipuh: They settled in Bugu Diyang in 1962 but moved to Diang Ipuh because of frequent floods.

Bugu Resak: Resak trees

Lunggo: Lunggo trees

Sg. Brok Bedup: In honour of Rajah Brooke

Empaneg: A type of bamboo

Koran: From mpuran, or dropping gold. Legend has it that Padat’s descendents dropped a gold necklace into the river.

Buluh Bedup: A Muslim village

Bedup Mawang: Abandoned in 1950s.

The Bidayuh Sadong: Taup Subgroup

The Bitaup are one of the 15 subgroups that inhabit the Serian/Samarahan area. Like most Bidayeh, they migrated down from Bugau, to Tembawang Tampun and finally to Tembawang Rutoi (currently Kujang Mawang).

In the 1380s, a group migrated out of  Tembawang Rutoi and went to Sg. Robin. They moved up to Sg. Taup and established a village called Kampung Mawang Taup. This is the origin point for the Bitaup subgroup.

There is another alternate history passed down from generations. It’s said that the ancestors of the Bitaup is Padat, a man from Sungkung, Kalimantan who came over with his band of men in search of fruit trees and wild animals. One day, he arrived at Sg. Robin. He accidently slashed a bamboo, which fell into the river and pierced a fish. He thought it was a good omen so he settled down an established Kpg. Mawang Taup (the place where people still wear chawat).

Another legend tells of a man called Datu Merpati, from Tanjong Sipong, Santubong who desired to meet Padat and came inland to his village. While there, he fell for a local girl called Suhom. Soon she became pregnant. During her pregnancy, Merpati had to leavbe as his first wife was expecting a child. He came back after the baby was born. He changed a wooden Kelabut into stone in honour of his son, which now can be seen in Kpg. Mawang Taup. They say people used to burn the top of it in times of drought to ask for rain.

In 1940, Rev. Father Staal interview Orang Kaya Panglima Baret of Pichin. He said that he was the 19th generation after Padat, which means that at a average of 25 years per generation, the Bitaup has been living here for about 550 years.

In the late 1830s, there was an Iban Skrang attack on the people of Mawang Taup.

By the 1780s, the first group began migrating outwards and established Kpg. Sg. Ngarat, followed by the 2nd group in 1850s, Kpg. Pichin and finally Kpg. Reteh in 1927.

Most of the names of the kampungs were taken from rivers and mountains (Kuhom, Sungan). One of the major reasons for migration is congestion, lack of agricultural land and religious conflict especially with the pagans. Now most are Christians, among them Roman Catholic, Anglicanism and Seventh Day Adventists.

Slabi: Form the word terrapin (labi-labi)

Sijijag (pronounced Sejajug): Jijag trees

Munggu’ Kopi: (Hill of coffee plants) malays from Kpg. Gumpe established a Plaman for coffee planting, and when after the group from Tebakang Dayak settled there, they moved back.

Krusen Siu: Enchana led a group of people out after failing to be appointed as Orang Kaya.

Kranji: Kranji trees

Slabi Empurong: From Lubok Tempurong

Kuhom: Where boats always cpsize due to strong currents

Sebemban: Where two parallel river runs

Reteh: Named after Darud Reteh and Sungi Reteh