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Home Dayaknese people from time to time Dayaknese Women DAYAK WOMAN, WHO AND WHAT ARE THEY? - Page 3


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Since young, for male or female of the Dayaks, in daily life, knowing the nature in our surrounding is becoming the main priority. In this opportunity, I wrote one of my experiences.


One day my father took me walking to the forest to seek the wood for cooking. Small Mandau attached on my waist, my left hand holding the wooden snake stick . At that time I felt that I already became a person that is mamut menteng . I walked with high confidence. After a long walk, we were far deep in the forest that the flow of the river could not be heard no more. Unfortunately, after being far from the river, the thirst tortured me. Although my step became weak, I tried to hold on. Since the journey seemed endless, I could not continue. My vision started to blur. I felt nearly unconscious. Then I told my father that in two minutes I would be fainted because of the thirst.

My father smiled and looking at me, he said: “know the nature around you”. While saying so, father chopped a root of tree circled and falling down between trees. Only with one chop, father found fresh water running down from a yellow root/Akar Kuning/Arcangelisia flava. Without any command, as fast as I could, the dropping water I took it to my mouth and gulp I drank it. It’s bitter but I didn’t care. After conquering the thirst, the body felt refresh. With confidence I walked again with new spirit

From one generation to other, the Dayak knows well and use akar kuning /Arcangelisia flava as the thirst quencher during a journey inside the forest. Also it works as supplement for body immunity from several illnesses and to guard the stamina.

A simple experience that commonly occurs daily becomes special and has a significant meaning when I try to understand that every experience is valuable lesson.

Memory of the experience when nearly unconscious because of thirst in the forest, small Mandau on waist without knowing its function, I accept it as lesson/field practice about kamamut mentengan and the way for recognizing the environment and nature. The positive impact is my emotional attachment with my homeland became so strong.

My generation is still experiencing the life direct in the nature of the homeland. And how about the generation of children, grandchildren and all other descendants in the future? Will they feel the same like us? ewen dia kilau kayu je Nihau paruruk . It’s my hope for children and grandchildren.


In the concept of Dayak belief, human and other creature has been decided and given task in respective position to fulfill their task in maintaining the order of the nature so that everything goes as it’s supposed to be in a harmonious and balanced order. This harmonious order and the order of cosmic balance is named by the Dayak hadat. Human is considered to be good or perfect if one is capable to execute all the customary law/ hukum adat and obey the pali law/hukum pali. So, customary for the Dayak is not only a regulation or habit that regulates the relation between humans, but has a wider meaning. Customary law includes all events, for all creatures and universe.

For example, if there is a wedding between an uncle and a niece, this wedding is salah hurui or wrong ancestry. The consequence is fatal since the punishment will be burdened to many persons, the nature will punish them. That’s why the customary ceremony is held as soon as possible to neutralize it and the wrongdoers should accept the heavy sanction that is known as singer.

Someone who disobeys verdicted singer or fines or punishment will be expelled from the region.

In fact, in the past, on the Dayak customary law there were several chapters related to the protection of woman, especially the pregnant one, but there’s no chapter that limited the movement and steps of woman. For example: A man who is spending time alone with a married woman and between them there is no familial relation and even they do not know each other, then the man can be prosecuted in the customary trial. A man and a woman who walk alone without the permission of woman’s family is also considered as trespassing the customary law. On the road, a woman is invited to a conversation by a man while they do not know each other, if it is found out by the woman’s heir, then the man can be fined since it’s considered as disobedience to the customary law. Also, if a man invites one or two woman to walk around without asking permission to the father of the woman in advance, the man is considered of having made mistakes and will be taken to the customary court and it’s a heavier case if they do not know each other. If a woman was found for having committed suicide because of her husband’s affair, the customary fine should also be given.

However, it there is a group of young woman gathered in a place, and a man should pass the area since there is no alternate way, it is not a problem as long as the man does not forget to greet older women in there. Chapters in Dayak customary law addressing the protection of tribes’ woman, some of those are:

  • Singer Tungkun or tungkun fine is the fine that should be paid by a man if he had taken a woman by force. Singer Tungkun Balang Dosa Palus means a fine – cancelled since the woman that’s tungkun has been taken back by her husband.
  • Singer Sarau, a fine that should be paid by a man related to the pregnancy out of marriage.
  • Singer Sarau Bujang, a fine for a man who disturbs or teases a young woman.
  • Singer Tandahan Sarau, a fine that should be paid by a man who makes a woman pregnant while the woman is not his wife.
  • Singer Karusak Balu, a fine that should be paid by a man who is involved in love affair with a widow.
  • Singer Sala Basa Dengan Sawan Oloh , A fine given to a man who walk or is at a house alone with other person’s wife and the husband cannot accept it.
  • Singer Sala Basa dengan Bawi Bujang means the fine given to a man who walks or is at home alone with a girl and the heir of the girl does not accept it. Singer Sala Basa dengan oloh, fne for customary trespasser in the case related to a girl or somebody else’s wife.
  • Singer Salahan Kabaluan means a murdered husband and has not been given the ceremony of tiwah but the widow remarried with the relative of her husband. The man who married the widow should pay the customary fine.
  • Singer Palangi Pangarai, a husband is fined because her wife passes away when giving birth to their baby.
  • Singer Kunus Kampung, a fine that should be paid by a man who lives in a house with a woman and after pregnancy, he just leaves her without anything.
  • Singer Tekap Tampar Baun Mate means customary fine for a man who causes shame to the father and mother of a woman. There is also singer for a jealous husband, if it is a excessive jealously without reason. For example, a husband who is excessively jealous of his wife and makes reports to the woman’s family while later his accusation cannot be proved. In this case, the husband receives a customary singer since he gives shame to the wife’s family. It is called Singer Kabehun Banae.

There are many other customary fines related to the protection of woman. However, the woman is not immune to the law or to the fines.

There are several customary laws for woman with intention for the protection and the goodness of the woman herself. For example:

  • Singer Tandah Dosa. Customary fine for a woman who admitted that was teased by a man, but if the accusation cannot be proved then the woman will receive a customary singer.
  • Singer Tandah Sarau. If a young girl is pregnant and without proof mentioning the responsible man, but she herself refuses to take oath for confirming of her words, then the woman receives singer adat.
  • Singer pandua, means a fine that should paid by a woman to another woman for teasing the latter’s spouse. The husband, in the other hand is given Singer Mangkalau Dosa, for not appreciating his wife and having an affair with another woman. In this case, there are two types of fines payment that will be received by a woman for the unfaithfulness of her husband. If a man commits a suicide because his wife betrays him, the customary fine should be executed.

In the old days, according to the customary law, if asang dan kayau happened, woman and children cannot be killed. Except if the woman was involved in the war, she could be taken to become a jipen . Her freedom from slavery could be given, if the lost party or her family paid a ransom. The price of ransom was decided in the customary meeting.

In Dayak tradition, the relation of a child in the family and among relatives either from father or mother side is the same. In reality, it often happens that a husband lives in the same house with his parent-in-law, thus the children will be closer to the family of mother side. However, according to the customary law, the right and obligation is the same.

There is no difference since it includes the prohibited matrimony, heritage and obligation. In dividing heritage, either in the form of material or spiritual and magical power ability, there is no difference. Male or female is the same. The difference is only in its natural function of physical condition between male and female themselves.

In the use of equipment, it is the same although there are some tools that specifically used by woman, for example: Suling Balawung is commonly used by woman.

  • Suling balawung is a musical instrument made by small bamboo and has five holes on the bottom part and one at the upper part.
  • Besei Bawi /b’es’ei bawi/ ~ the boat row for woman. The difference with the male’s equipment is on its handle. The bawi row has crafted handle and on the wide part has a three corners. The size of esei bawi is larger than besei hatue .
  • Balakon /balakun/ ~ a sort of rattan basket. Balakon is used by woman tightened in the waistline to carry the paddy after harvest to the sun-drying place.
  • In the past Dayak woman has a particular weapon to protect themselves. It’s a sort of small amulet called Langgei Simbel. On the langgai there is a sort of bracelet made of metal Male and female are the same.

There is only one prohibition that should be obeyed by Dayak woman. It’s prohibited to catch the fish in mihing , because if woman comes along to do it, the mihing will fall apart.

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 10 February 2010 13:57  



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