The Bisaya’ of Borneo

The Bisaya’ are one of the minor ethnic groups in Borneo, currently located within the vicinity of Limbang District (Northern Sarawak), Beaufort (Sabah) and Brunei.

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They are also known as Bekiau, Bisaya Bukit, Bisayah, Lorang Bukit and Visayak. They are similiar to the Tutong and Belait ethnic groups of Borneo.

The Bisaya’ community used to be quite large in the olden days but now there are approximately 10,000 of them. A big factor was the rising conversion to Islam among the Bisaya’, who changed their identities to Malays and Kedayans so as to assimilate easier. Many Bisaya’ in Sarawak are Christians, whilst their Bruneian and Sabahan counterparts are mostly Muslims.

Some of the older generation of the Bisaya’ believed they came from and are related to the Visayans of the Phillipines. However, there are also theories based on the Maragtas (English: History of Panay from the first inhabitants and the Bornean immigrants, from which they descended, to the arrival of the Spaniards), a book written based on oral and written sources about the Aeta of Panay, by a Spaniard, that the Bisaya’ actually fled Borneo during a war with their A-Liko (Melanau) neighbours.

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The Bisaya’ were a powerful people, with a king who ruled what is now Brunei (also called P’oni, Puni, Barunai), Awang Alak Betatar or Sultan Mohamad Shah. They were constantly at war with the A-Liko Kingdom (the Melanau). The A-Liko chieftain, Tugau/Datu Makatunaw, attacked the Bisaya’ who resided in Bintulu. The Bisaya’ community, led by Datu Puti, Datu Sumakwel and Datu Paiburong decided to move to a more peaceful location and ended up in the Visayan Islands where the Aetas were originally the indigenous people there. They purchased the island of Panay from Chief Marikudo of the Aeta. They lived and traded for a living, their people intermarrying among each other. The migrants to the Phillipines were not only the Bisaya’ but also the other ethnic groups who fled to find more peaceful settlements and begin trading.

10 years later, Datu Puti returned to Borneo and killed Tugau, sacking and looting their city, taking the rest of the A-Liko as slaves to Panay island. Thus the Kingdom of Brunei grew after the threat of the A-Liko was eliminated. They began forcing the people of Igan, Kalaka, Samarahan and Sarawak to pay tribute.

Later on some of the Visayans moved back to their homeland in Borneo.

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When the Spaniards arrived in the Islands 1521(before named it as the Philippines), they called the Tattooed Natives there Pintados who spoke a distinct Bornean language, During the war between Brunei and the Spanish, the Spaniards recorded that the Brunei Sultan Lijar was hiding in “THE RIVER OF BISAYAN, THE COUNTRY OF MELANO, NEAR SARAGUA”.

Mayhaps they were mentioning the Kemena River, where the Bintulu Melanau and Vaie resided. And the term “Saragua” could be referring to “Sarawak”.

Another version suggested that the origin of the Bisaya’ were from a supernatural being, Dewa Amas who fell down to earth in Ulu Limbang in an egg, and fathered 14 children from 14 native wives. The youngest, Awang Alak Betatar, became the first Muslim Sultan of Brunei, as told in “Sha’er Awang Semaun”.

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The Bisaya’ of Sabah’s language has 90% intelligibility with the Dusun Tatana dialect. The Bisaya’ in Sabah also has 58% lexical similarity with dialects of Sarawak Bisaya and 60% with the Brunei Bisaya’ dialect.

The Bisaya’ of Sarawak celebrate teh Babulang Festival in Limbang every year with beauty pageants and water buffalo races.

What our future looks like

Taken from : http://www.facebook.com/boytattoo (Sylvester Juli)

“He looks Dayak-ish, maybe Iban, but he has that Orang Ulu look too… Then  again the Vaiee also looks like that…”

He’s actually Iban + Lahanan.

You’ll be hard pressed to find any pure-blooded Dayak nowadays. Intermarriages have created a varied and diverse mix of looks that can be easily mistaken. So those who might think they’re pure blooded still, can be mistaken because our written records only go so far. While some who claim to be the product of more than 10 ethnic groups might be pulling your leg. 😄

But we are headed towards a future of a more homogenized society where ethnic lines blur and the unifying of ethnic groups into a single, multi- cultural and cross boundary identity. We are at that crossroads now, as the influx of non-native blood began during British  and Japanese imperialism and continues today.

One day, we might not be Bidayuh, Iban, Chebup, Sihan, Vaiee, Murik, Tutong, Daliek or Kiput anymore. Ethnic identity is always in a state of change, but that doesn’t mean our heritage will be forgotten. It just means that our children and grandchildren will be the heir to a vast and multi-cultural heritage.

We must not forget who we are, but we mustn’t be afraid of change and embrace it as a part of the next step in our unique identity and universality.

We are Anak Borneo.

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.

 

TATAU DISASTER (KUDI) BY KILLING A DRAGON.

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.

Languages of Sarawak

Malaysia (Sarawak). 2,185,500 (2004). Information mainly from R. Blust 1974; A. Hudson 1978; C. Rensch 2006; P. Sercombe 1997; A. Soriente 2003, 2005; E. Uhlenbeck 1958. The number of individual languages listed for Malaysia (Sarawak) is 46. Of those, 44 are living languages and 2 have no known speakers. (Courtesy of http://tusunterabai.wordpress.com)

Bakati’, Rara [lra] 11,300 in Malaysia (2000). Population total all countries: 23,300. 1st Division, Lundu, Pasir River, 2 small villages. Also in Indonesia (Kalimantan). Alternate names: Luru.  Dialects: Most closely related to other Bakati’ languages spoken in Kalimantan. Lexical similarity: 46%–50% with Bidayuh languages.  Classification: Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, Land Dayak, Bakati’
More information.
Belait [beg]   Alternate names: Lemeting, Meting.  Classification: Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, North Borneo, North Sarawakan, Berawan-Lower Baram, Lower Baram, Central, A
More information.
Berawan, Central [zbc] 710 (2007). Sarawak. Dialects: Batu Belah Berawan, Long Teru Berawan. Similar to East Berawan [zbe], West Berawan [zbw].  Classification: Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, North Borneo, North Sarawakan, Berawan-Lower Baram, Berawan, Central-East Berawan
More information.
Berawan, East [zbe] 1,100 (2007). Sarawak. Alternate names: Long Jegan Berawan.  Dialects: Similar to Central Berawan [zbc], West Berawan [zbw].  Classification: Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, North Borneo, North Sarawakan, Berawan-Lower Baram, Berawan, Central-East Berawan
More information.
Berawan, West [zbw] 720 (2007). Sarawak. Alternate names: Berawan, Long Terawan.  Dialects: Similar to Central Berawan [zbc], East Berawan [zbe].  Classification: Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, North Borneo, North Sarawakan, Berawan-Lower Baram, Berawan
More information.
Bidayuh, Bau [sne] 29,200 (2000 census). Bau, 1st Division, Sadong, Samarahan, and Lundu rivers. About 50 villages. Alternate names: Bau-Jagoi, Jagoi, Jaggoi, Sarawak Dayak.  Dialects: Grogo (Grogoh), Stenggang Jagoi, Krokong, Gumbang, Serambau (Serambu, Serambo), Empawa, Assem, Singai (Singgai, Singgi, Singgie, Singhi, Bisingai), Suti, Tengoh, Dongay, Taup (Tahup). Gumbang may be more closely related to Tringgus-Sembaan [trx]. Lexical similarity: 69% with Bukar Sadung [sdo], 53% between Bukar Sadung and Singai dialect.  Classification: Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, Land Dayak, Bidayuh, Core, Western
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Bidayuh, Biatah [bth] 63,900 in Malaysia (2000 census). Population total all countries: 72,380. Sarawak, 1st Division, Kuching District. 10 villages. Also in Indonesia (Kalimantan). Alternate names: Bikuab, Kuap, Quop, Sentah.  Dialects: Siburan, Stang (Sitaang, Bisitaang), Tibia. Cannot understand Bukar-Sadung Bidayuh [sdo] Salako [ knx], or other Bidayuh varieties from Indonesia. Lexical similarity: 71% with Singa [sne].  Classification: Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, Land Dayak, Bidayuh, Core, Central
More information.
Bidayuh, Bukar-Sadong [sdo] 49,100 in Malaysia (2000 census). Sarawak, Serian 1st Division. 30 or more villages. Also in Indonesia (Kalimantan). Alternate names: Buka, Bukar, Bukar Sadung Bidayah, Sadung, Serian, Tebakang.  Dialects: Bukar Bidayuh (Bidayuh, Bidayah, Bideyu), Bukar Sadong, Bukar Sadung Bidayuh, Mentuh Tapuh. Lexical similarity: 57% with Malay [zsm].  Classification: Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, Land Dayak, Bidayuh, Eastern
More information.
Bidayuh, Tringgus-Sembaan [trx] 850 in Malaysia (2007 Z. Akter). Southwest of Kuching, south of the Bau Bidayuh [sne], on Kalimantan border. Also in Indonesia (Kalimantan). Alternate names: Tringus.  Dialects: Tringgus, Mbaan (Sembaan, Bimbaan). Each dialect has a few villages. More similar to Biatah Bidayuh [bth] than to Bau Bidayuh [sne]. Gumbang [sne] may be a Tringgus-Sembaan Bidayuh [trx] dialect rather than a Bau Bidayuh [sne] dialect.  Classification: Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, Land Dayak, Bidayuh, Core, Sembaan
More information.
Bintulu [bny] 4,200 (Wurm and Hattori 1981). Northeast coast, Sibuti area, west of Niah, around Bintulu, and 2 enclaves west. Dialects: Could also be classified as a Baram-Tinjar subgroup or as an isolate within the Rejang-Baram subgroup. Blust (1974) classifies as isolate with North Sarawakan. Not similar to other languages.  Classification: Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, North Borneo, North Sarawakan, Bintulu
More information.
Bisaya, Brunei [bsb] 20,000 in Malaysia. Limbang and Lawas districts. Alternate names: Bekiau, Bisaya Bukit, Bisayah, Lorang Bukit, Visayak.  Dialects: Sarawak Bisaya (Bisaya’), Tutong 1.  Classification:Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, North Borneo, Sabahan, Dusunic, Bisaya, Southern
More information.
Bukitan [bkn] 290 in Malaysia (2000). Kapit, 7th Division. Alternate names: Bakatan, Bakitan, Beketan, Mangkettan, Manketa, Pakatan.  Classification: Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, North Borneo, Melanau-Kajang, Kajang
More information.
Iban [iba] 658,000 in Malaysia (2004). Population total all countries: 694,400. Sadong River north to Bintulu, Sibu; Sabah, Tawau District, 1 village. Also in Brunei, Indonesia (Kalimantan). Alternate names: Sea Dayak.  Dialects: Batang Lupar, Bugau, Skrang, Dau, Lemanak, Ulu Ai, Undup. Second Division dialect is norm for literature.  Classification:Austronesian,Malayo-Polynesian, Malayo-Sumbawan, North and East, Malayic, Ibanic
More information.Balau

[blg] 5,000 (Wurm and Hattori 1981). Southwest Sarawak, southeast of Simunjan. Alternate names: Bala’u.  Dialects: May be a dialect of Iban [iba].  Classification: Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, Malayo-Sumbawan, North and East, Malayic, Ibanic
More information.

Sebuyau

[snb] 9,000 (Wurm and Hattori 1981). Lundu, 1st Division, Lupar  River mouth, west bank around Sebuyau. Alternate names: Sabuyan, Sabuyau, Sibuian, Sibuyan, Sibuyau.  Classification:Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, Malayo-Sumbawan, North and East, Malayic, Ibanic
More information.

Kajaman [kag] 500 (Wurm and Hattori 1981). Central Sarawak, 7th Division, near Belaga on Baloi River.Alternate names: Kayaman, Kejaman.  Classification: Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, North Borneo, Melanau-Kajang, Kajang
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Kayan, Baram [kys] 4,150 (Wurm and Hattori 1981). Northern Sarawak, Baram River area. Alternate names:Baram Kajan.  Dialects: Long Atip, Long Akahsemuka.  Classification: Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, North Borneo, North Sarawakan, Kayan-Kenyah, Kayanic, Kayan Proper
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Kayan, Rejang [ree] 3,030 (Wurm and Hattori 1981). Rejang, Balui River areas. Alternate names: Rejang Kajan. Dialects: Ma’aging, Long Badan, Uma Daro, Long Kehobo (Uma Poh), Uma Juman, Long Murun, Long Geng, Lemena, Lisum. Limited comprehension of Baram Kayan [kys].  Classification:Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, North Borneo, North Sarawakan, Kayan-Kenyah, Kayanic, Kayan Proper
More information.
Kelabit [kzi] 1,500 in Malaysia. Population total all countries: 2,140. Northern Sarawak, remotest and highest Borneo mountains. Also in Indonesia (Kalimantan). Alternate names: Kalabit, Kerabit. Dialects: Pa’ Umor (spoken in Bario), Pa’ Dalih, Long Peluan, Long Lellang, Brung, Libbung, Lepu Potong.  Classification: Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, North Borneo, North Sarawakan, Dayic, Kelabitic
More information.
Kenyah, Mainstream [xkl] 20,000 in Malaysia (2008). South central, near Kalimantan border. Alternate names: Bakong, Bakung, Bakung Kenya, Bakung Kenyah.  Dialects: Oga Bakung.  Classification: Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, North Borneo, North Sarawakan, Kayan-Kenyah, Kenyah
More information.
Kiput [kyi] 2,460 (Wurm and Hattori 1983). Northeast around Marudi. Dialects: Long Kiput, Long Tutoh (Kuala Tutoh). Related to Narom [nrm], Lelak [llk], Tutong [ttg], Belait [beg], Berawan languages. Classification: Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, North Borneo, North Sarawakan, Berawan-Lower Baram, Lower Baram, Central, A
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Lahanan [lhn] 350 (Wurm and Hattori 1981). Central, east of Belaga, southwest of Long Murum. Alternate names: Lanan, Lanun.  Dialects: Most similar to Kajaman [kag].  Classification: Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, North Borneo, Melanau-Kajang, Kajang
More information.
Lelak [llk] Extinct. Long Teru and Sungai Bunen (at Loagan Bunut Lake) on Tinjar River. Dialects:Related to Narom [nrm].  Classification: Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, North Borneo, North Sarawakan, Berawan-Lower Baram, Lower Baram, Central, B
More information.
Long Wat [ttw] 600 (Wurm and Hattori 1981). Northeast, Tutoh River. Alternate names: Tutoh Kenya, Tutoh Kenyah.  Dialects: Long Wat, Long Labid, Lugat. Not closely related to other languages. Classification: Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, North Borneo, North Sarawakan, Kayan-Kenyah, Kenyah, Kayanic Kenyah
More information.
Lun Bawang [lnd] 24,000 in Malaysia. Sarawak 21,000, Sabah 3,000–4,000. Population for Brunei estimated at 500. Southwest border of Sabah and Sarawak. Alternate names: Lun-Bawang, Lun Daya, Lun Dayah, Lun Daye, Lun Dayeh, Lun Dayoh, Lun Lod, Lundaya, Southern Murut.  Dialects: Lun Bawang (Sarawak Murut), Lun Dayah, Kolur, Padas, Trusan (Lawas, Limbang), Lepu Potong. Classification: Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, North Borneo, North Sarawakan, Dayic, Kelabitic
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Malay [msa] A macrolanguage.  Population total all countries: 39,144,949.
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Melanau, Central [mel] 113,000 in Malaysia (2000 census). Population total all countries: 113,280. 3rd Division, Rejang delta coastal area to Balingian River. Also in Brunei. Alternate names: Belana’u, Milanau, Milano.  Dialects: Mukah-Oya (Mukah, Muka, Oya, Oya’, Oga), Balingian, Bruit, Dalat (Dalad), Igan, Sarikei, Segahan, Prehan, Segalang, Siteng. Balingian dialect is linguistically quite distinct from others.  Classification: Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, North Borneo, Melanau-Kajang, Melanau
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Melanau, Daro-Matu [dro] 7,600 (Wurm and Hattori 1981). 4,800 Matu, 2,800 Daro. Matu River from north channel of Rejang River to the sea, Daro and Matu areas. Dialects: Daro, Matu.  Classification: Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, North Borneo, Melanau-Kajang, Melanau
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Melanau, Kanowit-Tanjong [kxn] 200 (2000 S. Wurm). Ethnic population: 500. 3rd Division, Middle Rejang River, below Tanjong. Dialects: Kanowit, Tanjong.  Classification: Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, North Borneo, Melanau-Kajang, Melanau
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Melanau, Sibu [sdx] 420 (Wurm and Hattori 1981). Sibu, 3rd Division, Rejang River. Alternate names: Seduan-Banyok, Sibu, Siduan, Siduani.  Dialects: Seduan, Banyok. May be intelligible with Central Melanau [mel].  Classification: Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, North Borneo, Melanau-Kajang, Melanau
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Murik [mxr] 1,120 (Wurm and Hattori 1981). Below Long Miri (Banyuq) and below Lio Mato (Semiang) on Baram River. Dialects: Long Banyuq (Banyuq), Long Semiang (Semiang).  Classification:Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, North Borneo, North Sarawakan, Kayan-Kenyah, Kayanic, Murik Kayan
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Narom [nrm] 2,420 (Wurm and Hattori 1981). South of Baram River mouth, Miri area and south. Alternate names: Narum.  Classification: Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, North Borneo, North Sarawakan, Berawan-Lower Baram, Lower Baram, Central, B
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Okolod [kqv] 1,580 in Malaysia (2000). 1,000 in Sarawak, 100 to 200 in Sabah. Sabah southwest of Tenom and Sipitang districts on plantation estates; Padas River headwater area. Primarily in Sarawak and Kalimantan, Indonesia. Alternate names: Kolod, Kolour, Kolur, Okolod Murut. Classification: Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, North Borneo, North Sarawakan, Dayic, Murutic, Murut
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Penan, Bah-Biau [pna] 450 (Wurm and Hattori 1981). Central, 7th Division, Merit, Rejang River areas. Alternate names: Punan, Bah-Biau.  Dialects: Punan Bah (Punan Ba), Punan Biau.  Classification:Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, North Borneo, Rejang-Sajau
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Penan, Eastern [pez] 6,400 in Malaysia (2007). Population total all countries: 6,455. Apoh River District, east of Baram River. Also in Brunei. Alternate names: “Punan”.  Dialects: Penan Apoh. Related to Western Penan [pne], Uma Lasan [xky], but not mutually inherently intelligible.  Classification:Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, North Borneo, North Sarawakan, Kayan-Kenyah, Penan
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Penan, Western [pne] 3,400 (2007). 4th to 7th divisions, upper Baram and Balui rivers, Mt. Dulit area, 3 villages; Nibong branch of Lobong River, a tributary of Tinjar River. Alternate names: Nibon, Nibong, “Punan”.  Dialects: Nibong, Bok Penan (Bok), Penan Silat, Penan Gang (Gang), Penan Lusong (Lusong), Penan Apo, Sipeng (Speng), Penan Lanying, Jelalong Penan. Not closely related to other languages.  Classification: Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, North Borneo, North Sarawakan, Kayan-Kenyah, Penan
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Punan Batu 1 [pnm] 30 (2000 S. Wurm). Central, west of Long Geng, southeast of Belaga. Classification:Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, North Borneo  Nearly extinct.
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Remun [lkj] 3,500 (SIL). Serian District, Kuching Division,southeast of Serian to Balai Ringin. 13 villages.Alternate names: Milikin, Millikin.  Classification: Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, Malayo-Sumbawan, North and East, Malayic, Ibanic
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Sa’ban [snv] 1,110 in Malaysia (2000). Population total all countries: 1,960. Northeast on Kalimantan border, 4th Division, south of Ramudu, Upper Baram, Long Banga’, Long Puak, Long Peluan. Also in Indonesia (Kalimantan). Alternate names: Merau, used in Kalimantan.  Dialects:Apparently there was a dialect chain in Bahau area (Kalimantan); now a Long Banga’ dialect is developing. In Kalimantan, those living in Tang La’an are influenced by Krayan (Kelabit) [kzi] dialects.  Classification: Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, North Borneo, North Sarawakan, Dayic, Kelabitic
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Salako [knx] 10,700 in Malaysia (2000 census), increasing. Sarawak census data for Lundu Bidayuhs; Salako are not linguistically Bidayuh, but are referred to as Bidayuh. 1st Division, Saak, Lundu. 22 villages. Alternate names: Selako, Salakau, Selakau, Silakau, Kendayan, Kenayatn. Classification: Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, Malayo-Sumbawan, North and East, Malayic, Kendayan
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Sebop [sib] 1,730 (Wurm and Hattori 1981). Northern Sarawak, 4th Division, upper Tinjar River, between Rejang and Baram rivers. Alternate names: Sabup, Sebob, Cebop, Sibop.  Dialects: Tinjar Sibop, Lirong, Long Pokun, Bah Malei (Ba Mali), Long Atun, Long Ekang (Long Ikang), Long Luyang. Cebop used on the Indonesian side of the border, Sebop in Sarawak.  Classification:Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, North Borneo, North Sarawakan, Kayan-Kenyah, Kenyah, Kayanic Kenyah
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Sekapan [skp] 750 (Wurm and Hattori 1981). Belaga, 7th Division. Alternate names: Sekepan. Classification: Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, North Borneo, Melanau-Kajang, Kajang
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Seru [szd] Extinct. Kabong, 2nd Division. Classification: Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, North Borneo, Melanau-Kajang, Melanau
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Sian [spg] 50 (2000 S. Wurm). Belaga, 7th Division. Alternate names: Sihan.  Dialects: May be intelligible with Bukitan [bkn], Ukit [umi], Punan Batu 1 [pnm].  Classification: Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, North Borneo, Melanau-Kajang, Kajang  Nearly extinct.
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Tring [tgq] 550 (2000). Lower Tutoh River, Long Terawan village. Classification: Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, North Borneo, North Sarawakan, Dayic, Kelabitic
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Ukit [umi] 120 (Wurm and Hattori 1981). 7th Division, upper Rajom and Tatau rivers, Baleh.Classification: Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, North Borneo, Melanau-Kajang, Kajang
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Uma’ Lasan [xky] 1,250 in Malaysia (Wurm and Hattori 1981). Population total all countries: 2,750. Balui, Belaga, Kalua, Kemena rivers. Also in Indonesia (Kalimantan). Alternate names: Kanyay, Kenja, Kindjin, Kinjin, Western Kenya, Western Kenyah.  Dialects: Uma’ Alim, Uma’ Lasan, Uma’ Baka. Classification: Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, North Borneo, North Sarawakan, Kayan-Kenyah, Kenyah, Upper Pujungan
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The Kayan/Kayaan of Borneo

Kayan Ladies during an open house.

The Kayan are part of the Orang Ulu people, occupying Northeast Borneo. Although the term Dayak usually applies to all indigenous people of Borneo, the Kayan (or other Orang Ulus for that matter), prefer to call themselves Orang Ulu, and assign the term Dayak to the others like the Ibans and Bidayuh.

Ethnologist believe that the Kayan and Kenyah of Borneo has been inhabiting the island for about 900 years, migrating from southern China. According to a Kenyah Lepo Tau man, King Akalura of Tiongkok in China sent to ships to Borneo 900 years ago. One landed in Brunei, the people who would become the Kayan, while another landed in the Baram basin, where they settled, of which later became known as the Kenyah. This shows why the Kenyah-Kayan people have many things in common.

3 waves of migration occurred for the Kayan.

1st wave (15th century): Apo Duat (Mt. Murut and Baram River) and to Usun Apau (Balui and Tinjar)

2nd wave (16-18th century): Apau Kayan, Kayan River and Bahau River

3rd wave (18-20th century): Annexation of Malinau, Sesayap, Segah, Kelinjau, Telen, Wehea, Belayan, Mahakam and Medalam River. Some turned back to Sarawak (Balui, Tinjar, Baram and Baleh rivers)

Between the 17th to the 19th century, the kayans were fierce headhunters (ayau kung) and conquerors. They occupied many new lands from the west of Sarawak up to the northeast of Kalimantan, displacing the locals and renaming it with new names to signify their power. They even fought wars with the Suluk, Bajau and Tidung of Sabah.

In the Mahakam (Kalimantan), the Ot Danum, Bukat, Penihing, Punan, Murut, Tunjung, Benuaq and Maloh retreated to West and Central Kalimantan to escape the Kayan. Those who stayed must accept their new masters.

In the north of East Kalimantan, the Burusu and Tenggalan escaped to the east coast of Kalimantan after the Kayan expansion.

Their huge numbers, war experience, their high mobility, and the rich resources of newly conquered lands made the Kayan absolute rulers of East Kalimantan for 300 years. But they were never acknowledged as true rulers by the colonial powers because they were deemed as primitve tribes compared to the Sultanates of Brunei, Kutai, Bulungan, Berau and Tidung.

There are 3 types of Kayan (divided by language):

1. Ga’ay/Mengga’ay

Origin of the name comes from the word ‘gay’ (gai) meaning sword (mandau) used in headhunting (meng-ayau). A 2nd version comes from the Kenyah Lepo Tau who call these people “ba’ay” meaning people staying at the mouth of the river.

Long Glat, Long Huvung Lama and Keliway. Seloy/Gong Kiya:n and Long Ba’un by the Kayan River. Long Way spt: Long Nah, Melean, dan Long Bentuk by the mouth of the Ancalong. Long La’ay dan Long Ayan of the Segah River.

2. Kayan

Meaning “this is our land”. They live mostly by the Baram River.

In East Kalimantan, Uma’ Suling, Uma’ Lekwe, Uma’ Tua:n, Uma’ Wak, Uma’ Laran, Uma Lekan etc. In West Kalimantan, Uma’ Aging, Uma’ Pagung, etc. Kelompok In Sarawak, Sungai Balui, Sungai Baram, Sungai Tinjar, etc

A subgroup call themselves (Kayan) Busang, a name adopted before their migration to the Apau Kayan.

3. Bahau

According to the Kenyah, the word comes from the word “baw” meaning high (plains), where the Bahau used to live in the Baram before migrating.

Hwang Tring, Hwang Siraw, Hwang Anah, and Hwang Boh in the Mahakam. Ngorek, Lalu Pua’ of the Kayan River, and the Merap in the Malinau.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA Bahau lady and a Kenyah man

Due to the huge influence of the Kayan expansion, many ethnic groups became Kayanized, like the Melanau and the Muruts. In the Mahakam, there are two types of Kayan, Kayan Amoh (False Kayan) and Kayan Laan (True Kayan). The Kayan Amoh are the Muruts who call themselves Kayan.

Unofficial estimates of the Kayan population of Borneo is at 100,000 people.

The Seping of Belaga and Tinjar

The Seping are among the few tiny ethnic minorities that have survived assimilation by bigger groups and exist today as a distinct community, keeping their cultural identity and language intact. They claim to be the first group to occupy the Belaga River region and have left their mark on the landscape as proof of that. In 1956 they lived in one longhouse comprising 16 households at Long Koyan along the middle reaches of the Belaga River. in the early 1960s a major portion of the population migrated to the Tinjar River in the Baram District; four households, however, remained at Long Koyan. After almost twenty years on the Tinjar, the group that migrated there returned to their ancestral homeland on the Belaga River. Today, the Seping comprise three longhouse settlements: Long Bala with 28 households and a population of 205, Long Koyan with 8 households and a population of 56 people, and Mile 6, Belaga-Long Urun Logging Road, 4 households and a population of 23 people. The four households at Mile 6 comprise the group that did not migrate to the Tinjar.

The 4 households at Mile 6 insist that they are Bemali (Bah Mali of the Kajang group), a group culturally and linguistically related to the Seping, but in reality they are offspring of mixed marriages between Bemali and Seping, or Bemali-Seping-Kejaman. The Bemali used to live as a separate community, but due to a rapid decrease in population they merged with the Seping in 1956, at the single longhouse settlement at Long Koyan. Given their small number, and that they are offspring of mixed marriages involving Seping partners, they will be considered in this paper as Seping.

Oral History

According to an oral narrative by a Seping elder, Beng Lian, the Seping people are the original settlers of the Belaga River. Originally they comprised seven longhouses: two at Long Segiam, and one each at Long Seduk, Long Tegelem, Long Semakat, Long Belaan (in the Koyan, tributary of Belaga) and Long lga. A long time ago, a supernatural event took place: they killed a dragon and cooked it. Because of this, the seven longhouses either turned to stone or were swept downriver by a gigantic flood. All the people, except two, died. The two people were a brother and a sister. They fled up the Penyuan, a true left-bank tributary of the Belaga River. After years of roaming the jungle, they became adults, lived as husband and wife, begat many offspring, and revived a new community of Seping. They lived for many years along the Seping River, a tributary of the Belepeh which in turn is a tributary of the Murum that flows into the Balui. After living on the Seping River, the community moved back to their original homeland on the Belaga River, led by their leader Lakui. They reoccupied the Belaga River as one longhouse community.