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Dayaknese People From Time to Time 3 - The End

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G. Dayaknese community Myth

Dayaknese people recognize crocodile myth or it is well known as crocodile sign. Those who have crocodile sign have a possibility to be eaten by crocodile. The sign can only be detected when he or she is still toddler and it will be dissapeared after growing up.

Crocodile sign can be neutralized through scattering pure gold powder to a purposed wound in toddler forehead. After then it continues to a complement ceremony for him or her.

From above explanation, the Dayaknese people have strong relation to nature seen from their myth.

H. Personal Experience Related to Crocodile

Early 2003, the writer went to Kalimantan to conduct a reserach related to ”Medication Method Decision”. The resercah was conducted in Dayak Ngaju tribe in Kasongan Baru village, Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. During her research, the writer interviewed a Balian known as Tambi Dawin. Tambi Dawin said that before she had a talent to cure people she was taken to water by crocodile and got married to a white crocodile. She has a child from her marriage in the shape of crocodile. Her neighbor added that she was found in the palm peak tree after disappeared for few days. She said that every time she met her husband she would get more energy and she even could lift ta tree with diameter 50 cm long.

I. Between myth and experience

M. Haitami Dului is a Dayaknese painter. He paints crocodile and Dayaknese people.

Figure 16. M Haitami Dului’s painting

From the painting, M. Haitami Dului tried to define the attempt of 2 Dayaknese people seizing crocodile. The characteristics of Dayaknese people can be known from lawung (headband) and loincloth they wear. The first person has no physical defect; he seems shocked and is afraid for his condition due to one of his legs is inside crocodile’s mouth. The second person is a blind man and happy for succeeded seizing crocodile. The blind man can lock the crocodile by seizing its tail so that it cannot move and attack him. The setting is in the woods as trees can be seen in the background of the painting.

The blind man uses no weapons to seize the crocodile. He does not use any violence to seize it.

Those who live by the nature will not use any harmful actions to treat or conquer nature. They use no weapons when they meet wild animals. They determine themselves not flawing or killing wild animals.

When a Dayaknese is under bad situation for example when he is under wild animal’s threatening, he would definitely conduct reconciliation ritual to avoid bad accident that might occur. Moreover, the Dayaknese can also make a good relation to the wild animal as it is seen in Tambi Dawin’s story whereas she used the wild animal’s power to help others.

Some people would say that the myth and experiences above are superstitious only. In fact those who disbelieve the myth could get bad luck. People who are consumerism oriented and neglecting nature balance in their life would see the nature resources as an asset to collect their dough. They never consider the balance of nature and life cycle.

J. Nature Damaged in Central Kalimantan

Nature exploitation and pollution have been persisted since long time. If there is no awareness to preserve the environment then positively it would threat the whole ecosystem.


Figure 17. Central Kalimantan nature resources which extinct due to human’s greediness

(Tjilik Riwut documentation)

Figure 18. grey orchid; it is one of Kalimantan flora resources

(Tjilik Riwut documentation)


The fact shows that woods fire had never happened before mining and logging companies worked in Kalimantan. The woods fire becomes annually accident in Kalimantan.

There is mouth to mouth policy regarding to the woods. As we know, the Dayaknese people have tight relation to nature and it is mostly poured in their custom system. According to them, woods, ground, earth, river and environment where they live is Injam Tingang or a lent place owned by Ranying Hatalla (God). That is why they try to preserve the earth. The concrete example is when they are going to open non-irrigated agricultural field. To open the field, they have to pass some phases. First, before opening the field they have to ask permission from chief. Second, they have to conduct a meeting in order to find the right place to open the field and it is called as rapat tanduk. Third, the chief will find representatives and assign them to find the right woods. They have to stay in the woods to get sign from Ranying Hatala by giving a tribute to Him. Beside they have to check the woods and find out whether the location is suitable or not for non-irrigated agricultural field. After that the next activity is cutting the woods and waiting for 1-2 months until the area is dry, this activity is called timbuk pambuk. While waiting they use their time to do gold prospector, rattan collection and other significant activities. Fourth, they enter makal period in which the activity is burning the dry wood.

Local people have peculiar method to burn the land area. Ditch is made surrounding that area. The ditch’s depth and width are based on the need. The aim is for safety reason only in which to avoid fire cross over the next area. [1]

That is why woods fire never happened in the past. Dayaknese people never use the woods more than 3 cultivation crops time. They always replant the area with trees. They will use back that area for planting after 15 to 20 years ahead.

It is a taboo thing for Dayaknese people to perform wrecked action destroying environment. Ranying Hatalla is watching over them in Batang Danom Kalonen (earth) through Sangiang.

The new order regime in Indonesia brought new Forestry Regulation as it is the modification of no.5 year 1967 whereas government allows company to invest assets in forestry sector in Kalimantan. The investment leads to disasters particularly to local people. Woods fire caused continuous dense fogged and respiratory acute syndrome problems to them. Meanwhile the advantage goes to the investor and central government.

According to Forest Watch Indonesia’s data (2001), the highest permission to invest assets in Kalimantan was given in 1994-1995 whereas there were 62.543.370 acre used and 45% from it is owned by 10 big companies (Anwar, Wahyudi, 2002: 20).

Central Kalimantan province has citizen around 1,7millions. The area covers 1,76 millions acre woods or about 11,4% from its province area and 8,87millions acre production woods or about 56,06% outside its province area which is burdened by 56 forestry companies with the total area is 7.589 acre (Anwar, Wahyudi, 2002: 19-30).

The above condition illustrates Kalimantan island transformation which involving impact to local people.

Figure 19. The woods, the victim of human greediness

(Tjilik Riwut documentation)

Figure 20. Crane trucks in the hinterland area

(Tjilik Riwut documentation)

Figure 21. Kalimantan Tengah’s woods destruction

(Tjilik Riwut documentation)

Figure 22. Woods and rivers are no longer the center of Dayaknese people circle of life

(Pawaka DIY documentation)


The Dayaknese people in hinterland area is not in good position. In one side they seem to be isolated by their condition and in the other side they are regarded as underdevelopment tribe. Their non-irrigated agricultural field system strengthens public opinion on their woods burning habit.

The situation is also supported by unfair treatment in colonial era to Dayaknese people in which at that time they had to adapt complicated new regulation and many new inventions at once. It obviously brought the Dayaknese to a term called culture shock.



Authors’ team:

Nila Riwut and Mutia Hintan , S. Ant.


Yudith Mariaran Tresnowati, S pd




Anwar, Wahyudi K. Desentralisasi Pengelolaan sumber Daya Hutan : Jalan Berliku Yang Tak Juga Berujung, Biro Penerbitan Arupa, 2002

Florus, Paulus. Pemberdayaan Masyarakat, Institut of Dayakology Research, 1989

Hintan, Mutia. Pengambilan Keputusan Dalam Memilih Metode Pengobatan : Metode Pengobatan Tradisionial dan Modern Dengan Studi Tentang Relasi Antara Masyarakat Dayak Ngaju, Skripsi Tidak Terbit, 2003

Mubyarto dkk. Desa-Desa Kalimantan : Studi Bina Desa Pedalaman Kalimantan Tengah, Penerbit Aditya Media, 1993

Riwut, Nila. Kamus Dayak Ngaju – Indonesia – English. Will be publish

Riwut, Tjilik. Maneser Panatau Tatu Hiang : Menyelami Kekayaan Leluhur, Penerbit Pusaka Lima, 2003

Ukur, Fridolin. Tantang Djawab Suku Dajak, BPK Gunung Mulia, Jakarta 1971

Usop, kma m. Pemerian Morfologi Bahasa Dayak Ngaju, Pusat Pembinaan & Pengembangan Bahasa, Universitas Palangka Raya, 1976

[1] Dayak Ngaju language morphological term, Page 170


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