May 6, 2009
Tasty Solidified Tree Oil - Engkabang
this is an early morning shot from the edge of the river. The trees are very tall so it hard to get near the leaves or even the trunk. But the silhouette is majestic and formidable. I took a photo anyway even though the lighting was not good enough.
Rumah Ugap a small longhouse of 23 doors and two hours' drive from Kapit has two beautiful engkabang trees at the ulu end of it. The Ibans usually call the ends of their longhouse eli (hilir) or ulu (refering to up end or down end using the river as a basis). These two trees have been with the settlers have more than four generations standing tall and majestic like a special icon for the people and the land.
Each of the trees has been able to supply some engkabang oil once every five years or so according to Sibat the Tuai Rumah's brother who lived at the edge of the settlement and near the trees. The engkabang tree is known to be very temperamental in its fruiting. There is no regularity at all.
The engkabang tree is an endangered and disappearing species as loggers cannot tell much or care enough when they start bull dozing the slopes for their timber. Hence the locals usually say that the worst enemy of the engkabang is the bulldozer which does not have a heart. Thus one and all - all trees are logged and these loggers or timbermen don't have much sentiments for a special tree or a frog. (Try knocking their Merc in the town - you will be pulled to the police station at the blink of an eye.)
Again there has been no known activities where people chain themselves to an engkabang tree as most Sarawakians are very respectful of the "government".
It is a pity that engkabang trees are not easy to germinate. A new forest could probably take another 100 years to mature. It might even be too late now.
If you and I start growing some trees only our grandchildren or great grandchildren can benefit from its fruits. Some times I feel very sad that business people do not realise what they are obliterating from the face of the earth.
Photo from Sarawak Government.
Source : http://fromsarawak.blogspot.com
Photo source :http://fromsarawak.blogspot.com
Three bamboo canisters of solidified engkabang butter ready for the table. I was given these three by a dear friend who saw them at Sarikei. Knowing how much my family appreciates the engkabang with our rice she has put these away for me until I visited her in Sibu. What a treasure! When my children come back for special occasions or holidays they will look for engkabang for their hot steaming rice.
One day this simple tree butter would no longer on the table any more if the engkabang trees disappear completely from Sarawak. Treasure it while you have it!!