The Dayak of Borneo

Written by AWI. Posted in Hotels Update

The Dayak of Borneo

Indigenous people comprising 50 ethnic groups.

The Dayak, also known as Dyak or Dayuh, are the native people of Borneo comprising over 50 ethnic groups speaking different languages and having its own customs, laws, territory, and culture.

In Indonesian Borneo (Kalimantan) “Dayak” refers to any of the non-Muslim indigenous peoples of the interior of the island, as opposed to the largely Malay population of the coastal areas.

In Malaysian Borneo (Sarawak and Sabah) the term refers specifically to the Iban (Sea Dayak) and Bidayuh (Land Dayak) peoples.

The most prominent of the numerous Dayak subgroups are the Kayan (usually called Bahau in Kalimantan), Kenyah in southeastern Sarawak and eastern Kalimantan, the Ngaju of central and southern Kalimantan, the Bidayuh of southwestern Sarawak and western Kalimantan, and the Iban of Sarawak.

In the past the highly developed and complex religious practices of the Dayak peoples involved numerous local spirits and omen animals. Intertribal warfare was common. They were also were feared for their ancient tradition of headhunting practices.

Since the mid-20th century, however, Dayak peoples have steadily adopted Anglicanism, Roman Catholicism, and Protestantism; by the early 21st century the vast majority of the population was Christian. They do not carry out headhunting anymore or engage in intertribal wars.

The Dayak live mostly in longhouse communities with more than a few hundred members, and traced their descent through both the male and female lines. The family is the basic unit, and children remained with their parents until married.

Dayak village economies are based on the shifting cultivation of hill rice for subsistence, with fishing and hunting as subsidiary activities.

Source: Wikipedia

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