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Dayak

Dayak is the name of a tribe that lives in the rural areas of Kalimantan Island. As a tribe that calls Indonesia’s largest island home, the very island that is often referred to as the lungs of the world, the Dayak tribe maintains unique cultural elements, from its language and traditional attire, to its popular rituals.

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The Dayak tribe is organised and divided into six large clans, namely Apokayan (Kenyah-KayanBahau), Ot Danum-Ngaju, Iban, Murut, Klemantan and Punan. The Dayak Punan clan is the oldest of the Dayak tribes to settle in Kalimantan, while the other Dayak clans were formed as a result of assimilations between Dayak Punan and the Proto Melayu group (Dayak ancestors from Yunnan). The four clans are then further divided into approximately 405 sub-ethnicities.

The traditional Dayak attire also functions as a way to identify the caste to which an individual belongs. Higher castes, such as ‘royal’ descendants, typically employ materials with a patterned design that stands out from the rest, such as tiger prints.

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Mandau is a type of machete that belongs to the Dayak culture. It is also one of the weapons preserved as Indonesia’s traditional heritage. The weapon typically comes with carvings on the unsharpened side of its blade, on which one can also often find holes covered with brass as an embellishment.

Rumah Betang (Betang House), also known as rumah panjang, is the Kalimantan Dayak tribe’s traditional house, typically built using ironwood. At the entrance, one will find a porch, also known as pene, which functions as a space for homeowners to relax or receive guests.

The Hudoq dance is part of the Dayak Bahau and Dayak Modang tribes’ ritual, held after the planting of rice seeds from September until October. The moves in this dance are believed to have been sent from heaven. Based on the Dayak Bahau and Dayak Modang tribes’ beliefs, the Hudoq dance is held to commemorate the kindness of their ancestors in nirvana.

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