Ketungau Tesaek | Dayak Literacy “Writing from within”

The Dayak Ketungau long ago, in the era of the Dutch East India Company, was called: De Ketungau-Dayaks van Sekadau.

The Dayak Ketungau who live in the districts of Sekadau and Sanggau now are called Tesae’ not Sesae’.  

The two words/terms are very different. Tesae’ = getting lost, or going the wrong way. It was Ndai Abang (Balun Balunan), the head of the group (suggested in the 17th century based on intertextual studies) who brought the migration group up the Kapuas River, from Labai Lawai (Suka Lanting).

The historical text of Sanggau mentions that after building Sanggau, Daranante’s group was continued by Dakudak, then moved and settled in Labai Lawai. From Labai Lawai, this is the migration group upstream of the Kapuas River led by a woman who is called “Ndai Abang” (mother of a boy).

After sailing further upstream of the Kapuas River, the group found an estuary of a tributary of the Kapuas river, far upstream of the Sekayam estuary. They suspect that it is the river Ketungau.

Moreover, they found/saw there was an outcrop/sign pointing upstream. After a long time of rowing, they found a cascade. Then they said “these are not mites! Let’s go back to the mouth of the river and continue straight following the waters of the Kapuas river (Betang ai’ Kepuas). Among the group, there were some who didn’t want to follow Ndai Abang to turn around.

This is the book in where “Dayak writes from within”. The depth and nuance of the interpretation of historical facts that are the contents of the book’s menu are felt very different.

The accuracy of writing names of topography, places and terms is maintained – something that makes it different when written by outsiders (Dayak).

The Ketungau Tesaek chose to remain in the area which is now known as Sekadau district. Because they got lost in their nets, the group that did not want to follow Ndai Abang back to Kapuas to row upstream was called “lost in the direction of the road”, not misguided in the teaching and moral sense.


Paulus Subarno, Ketua Perkumpulan Ayoung Tao.

In the foreword Drs. Paulus Subarno, M. Si., General Chairperson of Ayoung Tao Ketungau (2019-2024), it is the literature that thoroughly narrates the Ibanic sub-ethnicity whose population is estimated to be around 30,000 people.

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Masri Sareb Putra
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