The Philosophy of the Dayak Longhouse

The era before the arrival of Hindu-Indian influence. Kudungga was a well-known local ruler in the Muara Kaman region. According to the Yupa inscription, this local governance occurred at the end of the 4th century AD.

Later, Mulawarman, son of Kudungga, was influenced by Hindu-India. Currently, local names are completely changed. Including the names of the kings and their descendants.

At that time, Kalimantan (Borneo) was known as Varuna-dvipa. This is according to historical records and texts from Hindu-Indian heritage.

During the era, local residents (which are known to have existed since 40,000 years ago), lived in caves. As in Niah, Miri. Their characteristic is living in groups (communal).

This communal characteristic is then inherited, according to traditions, in the long house building. 

There are various names to refer to settlements, or dwellings of the Dayak people, especially in the past. Often referred to as the “traditional house”, this place where the Dayak people live is full of meaning and philosophy from various dimensions.

However, before entering into its meaning and philosophy, it should be underlined that there are various names for the same object from various Dayak tribes in various places. 

There are many names to refer to the same entity, for example: huma betang (Central Kalimantan), lamin (East Kalimantan), rumah panjai (iban), rumah radakng (Kanayatn). 

In the past, there were no Dayak houses standing directly on the ground, such as in Java and Bali. It is suspected that the buildings that stood on the ground at that time had elements of influence with safer conditions at that time.

However, in the villages and places where the Dayak live, there are many threats from venomous animals (snakes, scorpions), floods, and sudden attacks from enemies.

Huma Betang consists of important parts. Inside the huma betang, there are actually several more houses. Some call it a booth, bilek, door, or mace. In huma betang, each household is separated by a wall that marks neighbors from one another. 

The thing that is quite important to note is that there is a long corridor from end to end in the huma betang, namely booths that are not partitioned and function as a common room. Deliberately designed for communal interaction. In such a way, that compassion, not just empathy let alone sympathy, occurs.

In that loose and open corridor, social control occurs within the cultural realm of longhouse life. Don’t scream or fight. The sound of falling needles is heard. Thus, everyone maintains harmony. Maintain and control manners, morals, manners, morals, and build civilization as social beings. 

While in each cubicle, it is privacy. It is not allowed to carelessly enter other people’s rooms that are not theirs. There must be certain intentions that lead to the destruction of the social order, if you enter someone else’s room. That’s why, entering a booth carelessly without permission and conveying what is the intention and purpose, will be subject to customary sanctions. 

Within the interior of the huma betang building, there is a very deep philosophy. The basic concept is that individuals are respected for their rights on the one hand, but on the other hand a person is also bound by other human beings. 

The truth is round. The concept of an individual human being, as well as a social dimension, exists in every ethnic group.

1. Longhouse in the past. 2. Inside of Dayak’s longhouse in Ensaid, Sintang.

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Masri Sareb Putra
Articles: 711

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