reserves Baning and Kelam Hill are located in the Sintang
Regency. While in Kapuas Hulu, there is the Bentuang
Dayak people in the Kelam district of West Kalimantan, still live
traditional in their longhouse which lies is in the shadows of
Dark Mountain, an eerie, mystical mass of rock deep
in the magnificent rainforests of Kalimantan, There
are many stories told about the Kelam mountain and the spirits
which inhabit the steep forests that cling to its base. In
the past, the Dayak tribes would pray to these trees and to
the birds that
lived in them. Every part of this remote wilderness was
sacred, protected for centuries from Malay traders and Dutch
and British colonisers by the impenetrable jungle and the
ferocious Dayak headhunters.
most of the Dayaks are Catholics, and only the old can remember the "head houses"
they built to display the skulls of
enemies. The tribal people of its most
remote mountains is out of the "Stone Age". Now live a basic life in
wooden cottages a few kilometres down the road on the edge
of rubber plantations. Thousands of
new settlers came through the years, known as transmigrants,
into Kalimantan to work the plantations of rubber, palm
oil and timber which have replaced the virgin forest. Most of
the settlers are from the islands of Java or Madura and are Muslims
with no cultural or ethnic link to the Catholic indigenous
people with whom they share the land.
this remote village, the Dayak families have been living
in the one expansive
thatch longhouse for as long as anyone can remember. And
together they have followed the Dayak laws, unwritten codes which
tell them which family has the right to till which fields, which
children can marry when they grow up, and what punishments they must
suffer for breaches of community laws. In the
longhouse, every family is allocated the same amount of
private space. The veranda is where
the cloth is woven and the rice pounded with heavy wooden
poles, the cows and pigs foraging in the earth below, thick shafts
of sunlight breaking through the cracks in the thatch.
traders established sultanates along the island's coast and
of Chinese migrants
arrived to pan gold, but few made inroads into the land of the
headhunters. Those explorers who succeeded in finding their way
through the towering jungles returned with tales of war
parties taking hundreds of heads, poison darts capable of
killing a man in four minutes and locally forged blades able to slice
through the barrel of a musket in a single sweep.
locals say headhunting stopped in this area about 1930s.
was done by young men to
prove themselves in the eyes of the girls," They had to
for a head - a man, woman
or child - because after you took it, the spirit of the person
came to you and gave you courage."