The Hornbill Network| Network & Magical Powers of the Dayak Tribe

You are wrong if you think that the symbol for all Dayak people is the hornbill. There is a Dayak tribe whose symbol is a crocodile, namely Dayak Lundayeh Idi Lunbawang. It is true that some of the symbols of the Dayak people are large fruit-eating birds and perched on the branches of tall and large trees on the island of Borneo. However, all agree that hornbill is an appropriate symbol to describe the Dayak people.

Have you ever heard or read about Panglima Burung? He’s not a myth or a legend, the Bird Commander is real. He who is the warlord of the Dayak people appears whenever needed.

These trophy skulls in an Iban longhouse
. Source: Blair and Helmi (1991: 122).

Have you ever heard or read about Panglima Burung? He’s not a myth or a legend, the Bird Commander is real. He who is the warlord of the Dayak people appears whenever needed.

This is a description of a foreigner who has experienced and researched the connection between Ngayau and Dayak traditional ceremonies in Sarawak.

The Begawai Kenyalang was originally connected with headhunting and was in honour of Sengalang Burong, the Ruler of the Spirit World and the God of War whose particular bird in the Rhinoceros Hornbill. A great feast is given which last for three days to drinking of immense quantities of tuak, at the conclusion of the feast, elaborate carved representations of the Hornbill are erected on the tops of high poles. Here Penghulu Ningkan, who gave such a feast to celebrate a good harvest and the return of many Sarawak Rangers from fighting Communist rebels in Malaya, attaches a length of newly flayed pigskin as an offering in the bill of one of Hornbill images (Morrison, 1957 p. 235).

Ngayau or headhunting used to be a Dayak ethnic tradition in the past to hunt for the enemy’s head as proof of strength. The western travelers and anthropologists had been interested in exploiting the exotic side of the Borneo inhabitants one of which was the practice of ngayau. Framing done by the western travelers and anthropologists had helped form the present image of ngayau among the Dayak ethnic.

Image depicting the tribe of Dayak as head-hunters came up to the surface again when an ethnic conflict occurred in Kalimantan but de facto the practice of head-hunting or ngayau in the local language had long been abandoned. The labeling to the Dayak ethnic as headhunters should have been uninstalled as it had been agreed to cease the practice in 1894 through a convention of the Borneo Dayak in Tumbang Anoi, Central Kalimantan which were facilitated by the colonial government.

Hermeneutic method is able to dismantle the myth by finding the essence of a text or reality, referring to the history and tradition when the text was written. Rational effort to find true conditions (sensus plenior) offered by hermeneutics is the real nature of any research method including research communications.

This is a part of my book about “Ngayau: A Social Construction of Reality among the Dayak Tribe in the Past” in an effort to seek to find the essence of the meaning of texts written by the western travelers and anthropologists of the 18th century until independence.

Referring to the history and tradition when the text was written, the writer is trying to construct how the authors framed articles/compositions. And the fact is that when writing there had been things that were not recorded by the authors and this has been considered the starting point of bias by the authors and the media that disseminated it.

This book describes occult stories, both those told by their parents to the author, research on the location of the Ngayau incident in the modern era, as well as from a number of interviews with social psychologists and forensic experts regarding several incidents of ethnic conflict in Borneo, especially in West Kalimantan and Sampit, Central Kalimantan.

Where do the Dayaks get supernatural powers that don’t appear to help them fight? That is what is meant by the title of this book.

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Masri Sareb Putra
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