December 11, 2010

Heart of Borneo - 3 - Scenes from Tematu Longhouse

Our first stop for the night - My first Kalimantan Dayak Longhouse Night...

It was so elaborate and regal. I really felt honoured by their display of hospitality and cultural elegance. The organisers (especially Salam and Alim) from Sarawak did a wonderful job of liaising with the local Kalimantan  Barat (Kalbar) counterparts to give us a very special cultural experience . An as sure as the sun rises in the east (ref: Beauty and the Beast) our adventure unfolded amazining. I continued to be amazed by the  rare sounds and sights of Kalimantan perhaps never experienced before by any other urbane western educated Foochow woman from Sibu..I like to think that I am the first Sibu Foochow woman setting foot in the virgin jungles of Badau - the area before Putussibau.

Some photos of our Traditional Welcome at about 8 p.m. on 4th Dec 2010

Fully dressed in ceremonial Iban costumes for welcoming us. Each woman would have taken at least one hour to get dressed in this way. to make sure that every minute detail is looked into. Usuually one or two other women would help in the adornment especially setting the hairpiece properly. Almost all the pua kumbu skirt would have been made by a loving mother for their pretty daughter as an act of love and generational pride.
The Miring Ceremony was a ceremony to offer gifts to the Gods with prayers for peace and harmony ;good harvest and good scholastic results. The plates are lined before the honourable guests  and the Head Man and the wise "singer" of the ceremonial blessings. As the singer sings his blessings upon all the people present he will also move a live chicken over the ceremony plate of sacrifices.
Guests had to walk up and down the entire length of the Ruai as an act of accepting the hospitality after the miring ceremony. It was a really grand welcome arranged by the people of this longhouse ..

5th Dec 2010 Morning - The Farewell

The send off.....The longhouse folks lined up with the Pala Dusun of Tematu. Many of these hospitable hosts and hostesses had been up the whole night. they can still beat a good gong and bid us farewell with all their heart and soul! I was once told by an Iban drummer that a drum sounds true only if the musician beats with this his heart and soul.

Other memorable longhouse photos I took before the departure on the second day of our Cultural Adventure.

This man is cooking some food in bamboo in the open air. I was told he was hard of hearing so I used sign language to communicate with him. I was rewarded by a huge smile..I was lovely "talking" to him. He was always given the special duty of cooking top rated bamboo dishes because of his skill. For the first time I ate very small and slim lemang which was perfectly cooked. I am sure he can even cook thumb sized lemang!! Now that's a great chef's challenge.

This is the longhouse farewell to us....the longhouse ladies beat the gongs to announce our departure and to give us a "royal" send off Borneo style. We walked around the long ruan twice. Later they lined the road and carried/displayed their Indonesian flags.

Pretty girls in their Sunday best peeping through the we walked away from the longhouse. The majority of the longhouse people are Catholics although there is one family who is Muslim.


Bill Funk said...

Thank you. Fond memories return!

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Dear Bill
thanks for commenting...while the rest of the world might be leaving all their traditional ceremonies behind these Ibans in Kalimantan Barat continue to accord their quite ordinary guests with their tradititonal welcome. I was very touched that they could arrange this for us. I hope one day you will come to Sarawak again for a visit. Jonathan Barau was with us in the trip as an official. I think you remember him in our MYF together with J. Masing and Billy A. Joo. The late Lorraine and I and others went to his longhouse in Ulu Sarikei.

Anonymous said...

I'm wondering which part of Indonesian Borneo (Kalimantan) is this, my Kalimantan geography is lousy.... anyway enjoy the pictures.
Donny Sirait

Jason said...

Its a very interesting post and it must have been an adventure to somewhere people do not usually go.
Is this type of expedition held regularly there and how do we participate, because if we are to go there alone or in small number, it will be quite a scary one.
Are the environment any similar to what we have in Sarawak. From the pics we can see the places are much developed with tarred road and all.
I guess that knowing iban yourself you did not have any problem in communicating.
Looking forward for the next posting. God bless

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Dear Don
Thanks for writing. This is after Badau ..If you google Badau or Hulu Kapuas you can get to see some photos. I am glad I brought two cameras and many spare batteries!! Lovely photography outing. But I am not used to the different lighting...still way to go!!

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Dear Jason
Yes this is the Dayak Iban domain of the Kapuas River Valley of Kalbar. Knowing a little bit of Iban helps but I am amazed that there are many Drs. amongst the longhouse dwellers. I met a Seminary Student (future priest) who hails from Java and he speaks beautiful English!! In fact many Indonesians who are in their 20's and 30's work hard on their English because they have been exposed to international arena and also extreme tourism.
For the time being this kind of expedition is partially sponsored by a Ministry in Sarawak with help from the Indonesian Government. If you are interested it is quite probable that there will be another one next year. It is true you cannot have all the amenities if you go alone unless you make your own arrangements with homestay. We were accorded full security with police escort/forerunners.
Very similar in environment to Sarawak - some parts are more developed and others less.God bless. Thank you for reading.

Ann said...

Once, we went to a long house with a gang of Aussies. They saw the food for the miring, but they didn't know, so they made a bee line towards it. the Ibans had to rush and grab the food back.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Dear Ann
That's hilarious...may be a Do's and Don'ts booklet would be helpful...I should write one pamphlet about that...thanks for the anecdote.
Remember Hari Raya Visiting? The cake at the top of the table is not for eating. It is for decoration famous longhouse relatives (7 boys) poolished one such cake when they were invited to a malay friend's house many years ago. The leader is now a Penghulu...and he still has a good laugh about that.

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